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No Change on Climate Change

Synod 2019 was asked to reconsider and withdraw two “assertions” on climate change made by a previous synod. Synod 2019 chose not to withdraw them, saying one was simply an observation not an assertion.

Synod also noted that “the Synod 2012 report ... has fostered good work through the CRC that we would not want to slow down.”

Tyler Wagenmaker, Classis Zeeland, said he had been present at the 2012 synod and recognizes this as a complex issue before a “diverse body of believers with a number of different viewpoints.” He said he didn’t want to try to change anyone’s mind on the causes of climate change but his concerns lie in how the report has since been applied.

“There is a lot of angst about the application of this report, primarily by the Office of Social Justice … what kind of policies would we advocate for? That’s where the angst comes in, and I think that’s what this overture (request) was seeking to address in many ways.”

The request came from council of Calvary CRC in Ottawa, Ont. (See Agenda for Synod 2019, Overture 8)

Synod 2019 had to consider two competing requests on this issue, as Classis Grand Rapids East also sent an overture. It requested synod not accede to the other overture 8. (See Overture 25 in the Supplement to the Agenda for Synod 2019)

This kind of back and forth made synod move to clarify matters going forward.

It has asked the Council of Delegates to look at historical decisions of synod, looking for the rationale behind “decisions dealing with political and/or justice matters” and how they were ruled to be properly before synod as “ecclesiastical matters.”

Synod asked that the COD report back to synod in 2020, by using one of its regular committees and/or an ad hoc group.

Jake Porter, Classis Holland said having clarity on this is imperative. “The world is groaning… we need to know what we can do within this body and what we can’t do … so that we might all witness to the new creation.”

Mike Vander Laan, B.C. South-East, questioned whether historical research could inform current decisions, saying deciding what constitutes an ecclesiastical matter is “only defined in the moment and not in the abstract.”

Anthony DeKorte, Classis Arizona, said it comes down to wisdom and a historical review is not needed. “There is nothing the COD will discover that will stop people from bringing things (they care about) to synod … because there is no square inch that doesn’t belong to Christ’s kingdom.”

But synod decided it wants to try for more clarity on defining “ecclesiastical.”

Don Bemis, Classis Holland, said, “We have had things come back and second-guessing what previous synods did.” Having a look back at history, he said, would be helpful “to see if we can draw conclusions.”


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.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is a news editor at The Banner.

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