The transition from a 30-member Board of Trustees to a 52-member Council of Delegates (COD) will happen earlier than planned.
Synod 2015 (the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church) mandated the transition to happen no later than 2018. Senior staff recommended to the board that it be moved to 2017, and the board agreed.
Details about launching the new council will be presented for approval to Synod 2017. The process of recruiting and nominating members for the council will begin immediately.
Ashley Bootsma, one of two young adult representatives appointed to the current board, asked if young adult representatives will be included on the council. Synod has had young adult representatives for several years; this is the second year they have been part of the board.
Executive director Steven Timmermans said, “With 52 delegates, the churches ought to make sure some of them are younger. We made a conscious choice to not create new seats.” Trustee Chris DeWinter was skeptical that would work, noting that at age 33, he is at least 10 years younger than all other trustees. “It’s disconcerting to me,” he said. “We have intentional procedures to ensure diversity and inclusion. But with [the council] we’ve passed the buck to the churches. A fair assumption is that it will be hard to get younger representation unless [the council] is intentional about getting younger representation.”
Other trustees expressed concern about the workload for delegates on the new council. “The workload seems to go up even more than what it is for current board members,” said trustee Darrell Bierman.
The transition is a sweeping change to the Christian Reformed Church’s governance structure. Instead of delegates representing large regions, each classis (regional groups of churches) will have a delegate. Instead of 50 percent Canadian representation, as exists on the board, Canadian representation will drop to a quarter, though the executive committee will remain half Canadian.
Back to God Ministries International and the new ministry agency that amalgamates both Christian Reformed World Missions and Home Missions will be represented by a missions committee of the new council rather than having their own boards.