Synod 2017, the general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), briefly looked at the question of funding for divinity students. Like education everywhere, seminary education has become expensive.
Synod 2016 appointed a task force to address a number of funding-related questions, including questions of equity for students receiving funds from classes (regional groups of churches), the financial challenges faced by Canadian students who wish to attend Calvin Theological Seminary (the CRC’s seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich.), and the impact of financial circumstances on the ministry of the CRC.
The task force made a number of recommendations, all of which were adopted by synod. They included urging student funding teams in classes to conduct annual interviews with students, to give preference to Calvin Seminary students, to develop clear guidelines for funding, and to work together across classis boundaries, if possible, to help fund students. None of these recommendations addressed the funding itself.
Synod’s reaction to these recommendations was perfunctory. Most of the recommendations passed without comment. After several recommendations had passed, one delegate, Robert Boersma of Classis Grand Rapids South, stood up to say that the issue of student funding matters. He said, “I want the body to feel the weight of what we are talking about right now.” He said that he was trying to find the words to give it sufficient weight and spoke of his own financial struggles as a second career seminary student and the stress it caused his family.
With that, the synod went on to finish the list of recommendations by voice vote and without comment.
Synod 2017 is meeting at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., from June 9-15. For continuous coverage while synod is in session, download the Banner app on your mobile device or 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 and the webcast, please visit crcna.org. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.