Synod to Bring Back Women Advisors

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Synod 2015 reinstated the practice of including women advisors, paralleling the guidelines established for ethnic advisors. Doing so will mean that women advisors will attend synod whenever there are fewer than 25 women delegates. Synod is the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church.

From 2001 to 2007, women advisors were at synod, but the practice was discontinued once women were allowed to be delegates. However, the number of women delegated to synod has been 10 percent or lower most of those years.

Many delegates expressed joy at seeing women participating in synod and gratitude to those who pushed to see it happen. It was noted that in light of the decision to have deacons attend synod, there will likely be more women in attendance next year.

Classes (regional groups of churches) will again be encouraged to select delegates who are gender and ethnically diverse in order to represent the denomination’s increasing diversity. Elder Judy Jongsma, Classis Grand Rapids East, said that when she arrived at synod, she felt like she was in “a good old boys club.” But, she added, other women embraced her and made her feel part of the body. “We must increase the number of women participating in synod,” she said.

Rev. Richard Bodini, Classis Toronto, spoke of the need to have synod be a picture of heaven here on earth, a blessed, diverse body of Christ. Deacon advisor Trena Boonstra affirmed the desire with words of appreciation. “I have felt very welcomed and encouraged. Thank you for that. It’s been a good learning experience, and I would encourage churches to send their women.”

A little different perspective came when Rev. Meg Jenista, Classis Hackensack, said, “I hear my story in all this. But also there are delegates who sit here under protest [because they believe the Bible does not permit women’s ordination]. Their voice is not being heard.”

Elder John VanderBilt, Classis Minnkota, said, “I want to remind you that this is a prayed-for synod. The Holy Spirit will guide our classis in terms of the delegates. We are elected to be here by God’s choice.”

Ethnic Advisor John Saa Lendein told delegates that his mother in Liberia, who sacrificed again and again and had three churches burn down, was such a blessing to him. He wanted synod to see the vital role of its female members.

Synod affirmed the need to enhance and encourage diversity at its meetings by voting unanimously to ensure the presence of women.

 

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.

About the Author

George Vink is retired after 50 years as a Christian Reformed pastor. One of his sons is an accident investigator for the Calgary (Alta.) Police Service, and his two brothers are retired from that position. He and his wife, Shirley, are members of Covenant CRC in Cutlerville, Mich.

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Comments

There was an excitement back in 2008 when women were first seated as delegates which led to a quick end to the Women Advisors.  I remember a conversation with Thea Leunk about complementarian women who would no longer have a voice at Synod.  These are not just the women who aren't allowed to serve in the offices of the church in their particular congregation, but those who by conviction do not.  It will be good to have a fuller representation at future Synods again.

 

Glad to see this happen, though I'm hoping it's never needed (only need advisors if less than 25 women are delegated).

 

I hope, as Rev Bodini noted, that Synod looks more and more like the community we will enjoy when the New Heaven and New Earth come together - with as much diversity as we can muster. Also note, it wasn't actually a unanimous vote -- and thanks to Rev. Jenista who with her usual winsome grace reminds us all that as a CRC community, we are invited to recognize even the diversity of those who are seated under protest (and my guess is might be the voices I heard in the webcast who voted against the motion). That too is part of our CRC diversity.

Rev. Jenista's point from the floor that perhaps women who themselves are not for women's ordination might be able to come as women advisers...I had not thought of that possibility until she mentioned it -- what a thought. Thanks Meg!  And Chad too - who echoes that in his comment.  I guess it won't happen, though, if we keep our female delegates above 25.  Maybe a tweak to this practice in future years (which was a part of the idea in the second recommendation of the overture, that the procedure be more fully and thoughtfully reviewed -- but didn't seem to be understood by the Advisory Committee, or their advisors).

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