Synod 2015 heard from representatives of two churches with whom the denomination has had long and sometime difficult relationships.
Rev. Arie Jan Plaisier, general secretary of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PCN), spoke of getting back to basics. The PCN was formed 11 years ago by the union of two large and historic Reformed churches in the Netherlands and one smaller Lutheran church.
The present relationship of the CRC with the PCN has been controversial within the denomination because of some of the doctrinal and moral stances of the PCN.
Plaisier spoke of the value of unity. He said that the CRC was “a special partner” for the PCN on this continent. He noted the difficulty of being faithful to the mission of Christ in the face of an increasingly secularized society. “All kinds of luxury are taken from us,” he said. “It is a time of purification, back to the basics.”
We need “fresh expressions of the church,” Plaisier added. It is time to “view critically how we are organized, and, I say, over-organized,” he said. “When faith begins to waver [and] become uncertain, it’s good to know that [we] are part of a larger whole,” he added.
Rev. Nelus Niemandt, the moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, represented that denomination. Niemandt observed that his denomination is struggling with the same issues as the CRC. He mentioned same sex marriage, issues of persecution and liberty, denominational structure and culture, and the roles of elders and deacons.
He said that a breakthrough had been reached in discussions to unify four large Reformed denominations in South Africa. The church has placed an emphasis on equipping its congregations to be missional as they face “vast social and spiritual problems” in their cultural context.
Together with other Reformed Churches they have declared a “season of human dignity.” He thanked the CRC for its partnership and leadership among Reformed churches.
The delegates from the Netherlands and South Africa were thanked by synod vice president Rev. William Veenstra, who remarked on the close relationships shared by the CRC and these denominations. He noted that he had been baptized in a chicken coop in the Netherlands in one of the denominations that came together to constitute the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, since at that point the congregation of which his parents were a member had lost their building in a church division.
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