All four officers of Synod 2019 were happy with how this year’s synod went. It took all the time allotted to finish the agenda, but the officers agreed it had been a smooth synod.
Thea Leunk, vice president, had been an officer in the past, and this was her fourth synod. “It was an irenic (peace-seeking) group, no big blow-ups, ” she said. “It was a very prayerful, congenial mood. People were looking to establish relationships, anxious to be the body of Christ.”
Rev. William Koopmans was president, a role he has played before. “We had a very diversified agenda, wide in scope,” he said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm generated for denominational ministries. My prayer is that the kind of unity we felt here will go back to the churches. We’re going to need that denominational vision.”
There are always times of humor. “I thought it was great when William tried chair during the challenge to the chair!” Melissa Van Dyk said. She was the first-ever deacon delegate elected to the executive. “It was such a privilege to serve the church,” she said. This was her fourth synod.
First clerk Rev. José Rayas has been to synod 12 times previously and has also served on the executive committee.
All four were moved by the liturgy that followed the discussion of abuse of power. “Seeing how many people came to put (commemorative) rocks at the front,” Van Dyk said. “You realize that it isn’t just policy and procedure. It’s personal.”
Leunk said one of her best moments was when Rev. Hirotsugu Mochida from the Reformed Church of Japan told delegates that he became a Christian at age 13 in response to hearing the gospel through Back to God Ministries International, the CRC’s media ministry, reminding delegates of how far CRC ministry reaches.
These four are not without worries for the CRC’s future. Van Dyk worries about an unwillingness to change, a lack of openness to the Spirit inviting change. Rayas fears the CRC will lose zeal for holistic ministry.
The shadow hanging over the CRC is the study committee report on human sexuality due at Synod 2021. The Reformed Church in America is further along in that discussion. “I listened to the report of the RCA ecumenical guests and how they are struggling with questions of unity,” Koopmans said. “I fear that conversation lies in our future as well.”
They left synod with hope. “There is a much more missional vision to church today than what we saw in times past,” Koopmans said. “It’s a clear attitude of being much more intentional about our focus looking out into the world, not just inward looking as a church.”
“We are still passionate people, even when we wonder what the future holds,” Van Dyk said. “We are Christ followers seeking to bring shalom. I have a lot of hope that we continue even when the work feels daunting, hard, frustrating. We’re seeking God’s face.”