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Synod 2019 (annual general assembly) of the Christian Reformed Church adopted new labels to describe its ecumenical partners: churches in communion and churches in cooperation. Synod is proposing changes to the Church Order to reflect this, requesting they be adopted by Synod 2020.

The changes were proposed by the CRC’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee along with revisions to the Ecumenical Charter (see Agenda for Synod, pp. 343-357), which synod also adopted.

As part of the revisions, the language of “fraternal delegates” has been changed to “ecumenical delegates” in the charter.

Gary Brouwers, Classis Central Plains, expressed thanks for the committee’s work in simplifying the descriptions of relationships with other churches and asked for help to translate this to “ministries on the ground.”

“Help us with interactions between my local church and other churches—give us real, practical things,” Brouwers said. 

The EIRC has produced a condensed version of the Ecumenical Charter to serve as a guide to local congregations in their engagement with other churches and denominations. Synod is recommending this to the churches. Meg Jenista Kuykendall, Classis Hackensack, said it could be suited to be used in an adult education class or review by church council to “intentionally create and cultivate those relationships you [are forming].” (The condensed version is in Appendix F of the Agenda for Synod 2019.)

The new label churches in communion replaces the previous churches in ecclesiastical fellowship. It describes the closest relationship the CRC has with other churches, and only synod can place churches in this category. The new category churches in cooperation describes relationships in two previous categories: churches in dialogue and churches in other ecumenical relationships.

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.

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