The Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church held its first meeting October 11-13, 2017, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Its 52 members represent the 48 classes (regional groups of churches) in the denomination, plus four at-large delegates. The council replaces the 30-member Board of Trustees.
The council acts on behalf of the CRC’s annual synod when it is not in session; much of its work is assigned by synods.
One of those assignments came from Synod 2016, which asked the Board of Trustees “to evaluate and prioritize all existing programs and ministries with the goal of reducing the institutional footprint.” (See “Synod Rejects Ministry Shares Increase, Wants System Overhauled.” To help fulfill the assignment of prioritizing ministries, delegates to Synod 2017 were asked to fill in a survey prior to synod. At synod, delegates held table discussions and reported those results.
The council committee that reviewed those results noted that “current ministry shares distributions among Back to God Ministries International, Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, Congregational Services, and Resonate Global Mission reflect generally what responses seem to suggest.” It also asked executive director Steven Timmermans to bring to the council data regarding administrative versus ministry costs.
Another assignment from Synod 2017 followed synod’s adoption of the Belhar Confession as a contemporary testimony. Synod instructed the executive director to facilitate the addition of footnotes to the Belhar “to provide biblical and confessionally grounded clarity to the parts of the Belhar that are widely recognized to cause disagreement and alarm.”
The council heard that an ad hoc team has been appointed for that task: Lyle Bierma (Calvin Theological Seminary); Andrew Beunk; Jim Payton (chair of CRC’s ecumenical and interchurch relations committee); Reginald Smith (director of the offices of Race Relations and Social Justice); with research assistance from Jessica Joustra.
The council elected its officers and executive committee. The officers are president Paul De Vries, vice president Andy de Ruyter, secretary Bernie Bakker, and treasurer Tim Bosscher. The executive committee includes Tong Park, Susan Hoekema, Beth Fellinger, Ashley Medendorp, and the four officers.
In other actions, the council
- released a statement lamenting recent tragic events, both natural disasters and human-caused tragedies;
- reviewed the results of a survey of synod delegates regarding the relationship between the CRC and the Reformed Church of America;
- decided to hold Inspire conferences every other year.