Three mission agencies of the Christian Reformed Church have written to synod expressing appreciation for the work that has gone into the report from the Task Force to Review Structure and Culture but also expressing concerns about its recommendations. Additionally, two overtures are asking that consideration of the task force’s recommendations be delayed until the churches have had time to study them. The communications and overtures are contained in the 2015 Agenda for Synod supplement. The report from the task force can be found in the 2015 Agenda for Synod (p. 351).
The task force is recommending that the boards of Christian Reformed World Missions, Christian Reformed Home Missions, and Back to God Ministries International (BTGMI) be combined into a global missions subcommittee of a proposed 60-member council of delegates that would replace the current 30-member Board of Trustees.
A communication from BTGMI raises questions over who would have fiduciary authority over money designated by donors for that agency and what the effect would be on the Back to God brand in relation to fundraising. It asks what the role would be of what is now the BTGMI board. That agency also noted that the proposed unification of World Missions and Home Missions raises questions about its place and role in the CRC’s global ministries.
For their part, even as World Missions and Home Missions work toward unification, the agencies want to distance themselves from the task force’s recommendations, lest their own work toward unification not be distinguished from the main proposals of the task force. The unification proposal would see the two agencies joined into one global missions agency under its own board.
The communication from Home Missions notes that both proposals involve reorganization at a denominational level but says the proposals are quite different. The communication lists several concerns about the task force recommendations.
“We ask that delegates to synod take careful notice of the distinctions between the [task force’s] proposals for agency restructuring and the [Board of Trustee’s] proposal to establish a single mission agency . . . and treat each proposal on its own merits.” The Home Missions communication also asks that, if synod delays action on the task force recommendations, it not delay the proposed unification of the two agencies, causing unification to lose momentum..
A communication from World Missions echoes many of the same concerns, also raising questions about the reduction in Canadian representation on the proposed council and expressing concern that a large council would result in influence being concentrated in the 12-member executive committee.
Both agencies are critical of the task force’s negative characterization of the relationship between the agencies, noting that what may have been true in the 1970s and 1980s is no longer the case today and citing many examples of inter-agency cooperation.
Classis Hudson (a regional group of churches) is asking synod to postpone adoption of the task force’s recommendations. It says that the process was not a result of “felt needs” of the churches, but rather issues perceived by an outside consultant. “The feedback sought from the churches themselves throughout this process has been relatively little,” the overture states.
It asserts that such a substantial alteration to the denominational structure needs more time to be considered by the churches.
Six church councils in Classis Iakota also want the discussion postponed since the report was published too late for churches and classes to discuss it.
What to Watch for at Synod 2015
Board of Trustees Comments on Structure and Culture Task Force
Grand Rapids Dreaming
Board of Trustees Reviews Structure Task Force Report
Task Force Reviewing Structure and Culture Requests Feedback
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