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In his final act as the leader of Faith Formation Ministries, Syd Hielema (along with Christine Dekker)  presented to Synod 2019 (the general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church) the philosophy of ministry that has guided this still new and innovative denominational ministry.

Faith Formation Ministries, only four years old as a denominational ministry, grew out of a “shepherding committee” appointed by Synod 2007 to help the denomination invite and incorporate children in the Lord’s Supper, something new to many churches at the time.

The approach taken by the shepherding committee became the seed of what is now Faith Formation Ministries. It owes much to the guiding genius of Syd Hielema. Instead of creating programs, Faith Formation Ministries comes alongside churches, listening carefully to who they are and where they want to go, curating resources—often resources created by other congregations—and making them available to the churches, and walking with the churches as they explore new ways to take on the shape of Jesus.

In his and Dekker’s address to synod, they said they take a “practice-based approach,” drawing on the practices of congregations new and old, in order to help leaders “be shepherds of [their] congregation’s culture.”

This approach, Hielema said, “reshapes the relationship between the denomination and the local church.”

Leaving Faith Formation Ministries as of July 1, Hielema will be the new director of the CRC’s Connections II project. His successor in Faith Formation Ministries is Chris Schoon.

Synod sent Hielema off with a standing ovation.

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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