Synod Retains Ethnic Adviser Role

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Synod 2014 acted to ensure that “the perspectives of ethnic minorities in the [denomination will] be expressed” at future synods.

Synod reinstated the practice of having ethnic advisers, which delegates learned earlier in the week would be discontinued. This year, for the first time since ethnic advisers first were invited to synod in 1997, a threshold of 25 delegates of diverse backgrounds was reached. Synod 1996 had decided that once that threshold was met, ethnic advisers would no longer be necessary.

But the grounds for the new resolution this synod adopted state: “The makeup of one particular synod does not necessarily constitute a trend toward increased diversity in the [Christian Reformed Church].”

Going forward, synods will continue the practice of only convening ethnic advisers as necessary to reach the benchmark of 25 persons of ethnic minority.

“This is about the spirit of the thing,” said Rev. John Tenyenhuis, Classis Toronto. “We trust that the process will be blessed, and that in time we’ll get out of having to socially construct things this way. . . . But we need to make certain we have a joyful diversity.”

“Thank you for your obvious support of ethnic advisers,” said Elder Mack Randall, Classis Grand Rapids North. “The heart of God is being shown at this synod. If things keep going the way they are at this synod, there will come a time when the minorities here will say ‘We are well-represented here.’ . . . I have no doubt that day will come soon.”

“I don’t like quotas,” said Robert Cumings, Classis Pacific Northwest, “but I don’t see this as a quota. I really treasure the insight, godliness, and wisdom that we gain from ethnic advisers and other persons of ethnic minority at synod.”

Elder Juan Sierra, Classis Southeast U.S., said that the earlier decision to close the door on ethnic advisers felt like being shut out of a family. He added:  “We do not want you to see past our race, we want you to know our race. . . . If 25 [minority delegates] is enough, then we are missing out on a part of the kingdom of God.  Twenty-five, that’s nice, let’s see if we can get to 30, 35!”


Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.

About the Author

Roxanne Van Farowe is a freelance writer living in North Carolina. She has reported on synod, the annual decision-making gathering of the CRC, for many years.

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