The role of stated clerk is probably the most unsung task in the Christian Reformed Church. They are the hardworking souls that keep classes (the CRC’s 49 regional groups of churches) running. They receive mountains of information and make sure it gets sent to the appropriate people. They are the ones that organize classis meetings and help them run smoothly.
For the first time, most of them gathered to meet each other, meet some of the denominational leaders behind the email addresses that are most likely to turn up in their inboxes, and to learn from each other. Clerks in the Canadian classes have met previously, and U.S. clerks had a gathering two years ago, but this was the first time they were all together.
Of the clerks in attendance, some have been in their position for 20 years or more, while others are newer to the role, including one who was only days into his position.
Albert Postma, a minister and consultant for classis renewal with Pastor Church Resources, and Dee Recker, director of Synodical Services, organized the conference. Thirty-three clerks attended the conference Jan. 8-10 in Bellflower, Calif. Besides Postma and Recker, the clerks met John Bolt, the CRC’s director of finance and administration, Kathy Smith of Calvin Theological Seminary, David Koll, director of the Candidacy Office, and others.
Recker said the main purpose was to give clerks an opportunity to learn from each other. Postma concurred. “We wanted to make sure we did things together that we can only really do together. We think that when people serving in different places but in similar roles come together, they can learn a lot simply from hearing how things are being done in other places.”
Bernie Bakker has been a stated clerk for almost 10 years, serving in three different classes in Canada. He said clerks had some of their questions answered, like changes to rules regarding Commissioned Pastors. “Pastors and church councils often consider (clerks) to be experts in Church Order. We were made aware of resources available on the CRCNA website,” he said.
He noted that they learned about best practices from each other, like using technology for committee meetings. They heard how classes that have several ethnic and language groups do classis.
Glenda Tebben has been the clerk for a classis in Michigan for three years. She learned that another clerk sends a recap of each meeting to the churches. “I thought this was a great idea and wondered why I didn’t ever think about this?”
Tebben hopes there are more gatherings like this one. “Gatherings like this are great ways for me to continue learning,” she said. “I’m not a pastor and don’t have any formal seminary training, so connecting with pastors and church leaders expands my learning.”
Postma hopes clerks left feeling equipped and empowered for ministry. “We wanted them to have a unique sense of the influence that they have within their classis, and to find ways to lean into that influence in effective and appropriate ways.”