Paul R. De Vries, the first president of the Council of Delegates (COD), winsomely presented the work of this new and powerful board to Synod 2019 (the general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church).
The COD, now two years old, does three things, De Vries explained. They act as a board, governing the mission ministries of the denomination. They carry out tasks assigned to them by the previous synod. And they act in the place of synod when decisions must be made before the next synod session.
De Vries reflected on times past when the denomination had large independent boards governing each denominational ministry, one for world missions, for example, and another for home missions. These large boards involved many people in the work of the denomination. They met often. They connected the work of the denominational agencies with church members.
Much about this was good, but not all, De Vries said. “The good old days weren’t always good.” Each board had its own agenda. With the new, centralized model governing the COD, the denomination now has an opportunity to come together in a new way. “What the COD attempts to do,” said De Vries, “is bring us together.”
He acknowledged a potential pitfall with a powerful centralized board: “The difficulty is that it is entirely possible to overreach,” he said. “Occasionally, we get it wrong.” But, he added, the COD tries not step in when it does not have to.
As if to emphasize this last point, De Vries pointed out at the end of his speech that the COD representatives have the “single smallest table on the floor of synod.” Small table or not, the COD touches almost every part of denominational ministry. Their goal, he said, was to enable synod to do its work: “If things go well with the COD,” he told the synod delegates, “you should feel set up to do your job.”
Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, 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 on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.