Synod 2015 overwhelmingly approved the plan to unify Christian Reformed Home Missions (CRHM) and Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) into one global mission agency for the CRC, with the mandate to “give leadership to the denomination in its task of bringing the gospel holistically to the people of North America and the world, and drawing them into fellowship with Christ and his church.”
While there has been encouragement for the two agencies to work together for many years, the leaders of the agencies believe that actual unification now is timely, strategic, and stewardly.
Rev. Paul Im, Classis Hanmi, wondered what would happen to the support now given to the Korean churches. Committee reporter Rev. Jose Rayas assured him that in his ministry in Texas, he had both Home Missions and World Missions support, and such would continue. Rev. Merle Den Bleyker, Classis Arizona, also said that in his experience as a pastor in Berwyn, Ill., the distinction between the two agencies quickly blurred.
Colin Watson, the CRC’s director of ministries and administration who also previously served as president of the board of World Missions, noted, “Most people groups are no longer bound by geographies. Now strategies used by agencies can be exchanged by each agency to be more effective in obedience to God’s call. The proposal before you is all about increasing/becoming more stewardly and able to do more ministry.”
Rev. Moses Chung, Home Missions director, added, “We live in a changing, shrinking world. Domestic boundaries are less relevant or helpful. Facing challenges in a diverse world, we believe that as one agency we can come alongside local congregations to face the mission challenge.” He said that the previous agency structures have served the church well but that the time has come to break down the barriers. The past is important, as is the present, but “as servants in the agencies, we need to be thinking and preparing for the future. It’s here!
World Missions director Rev. Gary Bekker agreed that now is the time to make this move. “This is about liveliness of the gospel in the CRCNA . . . and serving the Lord of the ages in the age where he has placed us.”
Rev. Josiah Chung, Classis Grand Rapids East, expressed his support of the unification and sees it helping as he pastors international students near the Calvin Colege campus. He noted its effectiveness as people go quickly from home to overseas today. Rev. Gerald Koning, Classis Georgetown, a former missionary in El Salvador, said that by joining, “We fill the need for missional pastors working in a local context.” Rev. Stanley Jim, Classis Red Mesa, observed, “This allows us to be missionaries in our own backyard.”
Some delegates wondered about how the transition would proceed. They were assured that while there will be learning to be done along the way, the agencies have a detailed plan anticipating many of the concerns.
After approving the unification, delegates surrounded the two directors as executive director Steven Timmermans prayed, thanking God for visionary leaders who dreamed and worked very hard, and asking that God will now give them a calm spirit as the work of unification moves forward.
Synod 2015 is meeting at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, from June 12-18. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit crcna.org. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.