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.