Synod 2019 approved changes for how the archives of the Christian Reformed Church, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary will be managed. The archives will now be governed under the Hekman Library.
The Board of Calvin College asked for the changes in order to clarify who is responsible for supervising staff at Heritage Hall, where the archives are kept.
The CRC’s Historical Committee opposed the changes, saying they would remove the distinct identity of the archives, intentionally established as separate from the library by Synod 1969.
As part of the changes, synod approved the establishment of an Archives Advisory Council. Synod also asked the Council of Delegates “to work with the Historical Committee to review their mandate and clarify the continued relationship between the committee and all of the stakeholders.”
Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin College, said, “We believe this proposed form of collaboration allows for the three entities to work better together than they can on their own.” He suggested that continuing with the same structure could risk things being missed.
James De Jong, a member of the Historical Committee and president emeritus of the seminary, expressed the committee’s “deep concern” that the discernable, recognizable rich treasure of legacy not be lost. “If it’s simply a department of the library, we are going to lose something great,” he said.
“We recognize that the odds are stacked against us,” said Historical Committee chair John Bolt, describing to synod why he felt it necessary to present the opposing view. He said the stance was supported by a “cloud of witnesses” including support from the The Van Raalte Institute in Holland, Mich.
Some delegates expressed concern over whether they had enough information to choose between a difference of opinion from two respected organizations. Sherry TenClay, a delegate for Classis Red Mesa, spoke from experience dealing with organizational change. “We can listen quickly, and then do mop-up of the change later or we can make the decisions carefully and finish the communication and then we can make the decision,” she said.
Petr Kornilov from Classis Hackensack said it felt like “wading in territory that is very unclear.”
Steve Bootsma, delegate from Thornapple Valley, expressed regret that the decision of synod “might be stepping on the toes of the Historical Committee,” but said that synod’s responsibility is to do what is in the best interest of the CRCNA.
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.