Most of Synod 2020 Agenda Deferred to 2021

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The Council of Delegates will host a special meeting in early June to process a small portion of the Agenda for Synod 2020. For the first time in the history of the Christian Reformed Church, synod (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC) was canceled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bulk of the Agenda will wait for Synod 2021.

The Council is mandated by the CRC’s Church Order to be the interim committee of synod, dealing with matters that cannot wait until the following synod. (See “Synod 2020 Canceled.)

Rev. William Koopmans chaired a meeting of the program committee to decide on the shortened agenda. (The program committee is made up of the officers of the previous year’s synod.) Koopmans said they started with the default position of “deferring as much of the agenda to Synod 2021 as reasonable, while also realizing that some matters are time-sensitive and ought not to be delayed.”

He noted that the committee was careful not to expect the special meeting of the COD to replicate or replace a synod meeting, but rather to manage those matters that cannot wait until the following year without adversely affecting the ministry of the church.

Urgent matters for the Council’s special meeting include the following:

  • Approval of new appointments to the Council and various committees and boards
  • A proposal to recognize the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women in 2021 and an overture (request) pertaining to that proposal
  • The recommendation to adopt the Reimagining Ministry Shares proposal, including necessary changes to the Church Order Supplement
  • Approval of new candidates for the ministry
  • Budgetary matters
  • Two personal appeals

Matters deferred to Synod 2021 include the following:

  • Church Order changes proposed by Synod 2019
  • Several matters pertaining to abuse of power, including a code of conduct for ministry leaders
  • All overtures except one (related to the 25th anniversary of women’s ordination)
  • Review of New City Catechism
  • A report on the definition of heresy
  • Proposed name change for Back to God Ministries International

Just as it does for synods and regular meetings of the Council, The Banner will observe the meeting and report on it. That coverage will be in the July/August issue of The Banner, traditionally known as the synod issue.

CRC director of synodical services Dee Recker estimated the denomination will save $225,000 to $250,000 due to cancelation of Synod 2020. She said that takes into account the savings on contracted help, meeting facilities, lodging, travel, and food for delegates, staff, and guests. There won't be an Acts of Synod 2020 nor an updated Church Order published and mailed.

Deferring most of the agenda to 2021 will result in a larger Agenda for Synod 2021 to be published and mailed.

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

See comments (4)


Postponing Synod for a year. Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? Synod has debated biennial or triannual gatherings of synod for a long time.

Most of the Agenda has been postponed for a year and, according to Dee, we're saving up to $250,000. As a token of gratitude for her decades of faithful work, we should offer at least a tithe of those savings to Dee.

The next step: Having Synod 2021 meet on Zoom next year. That will save at least $200,000.  Given today's technology, there is no reason on earth why we need to have annual treks to Grand Rapids.

We're living in a virtual world, folks.  Where two or three are gathered online, we've become a church. Where 50 or so are gathered on Zoom, it can become Synod.

So recognizing the 25th anniversary of women in office is an urgent matter, but matters pertaining to the abuse of power can wait until 2021?

A couple question (which are probably still unknown at the point):

  1. Will Synod 2021 likely be longer (two weeks instead of one)?
  2. Will Synod 2021 move back to Grand Rapids? (I believer Synod 2021 was scheduled to be in Iowa.)

"The recommendation to adopt the Reimagining Ministry Shares proposal, including necessary changes to the Church Order Supplement."  The item for COD to deal with.

Not sure it is a good idea to let the COD (or its Executive) deal with this.  Why not simply ask the churches to do their utmost to meet their 2020 budgets which they would have completed before  Dec. 31, 2019. However that is easier said than done as COD (or anyone else) will have no way of accurately knowing how individual church budgets have (will) survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Making any decisions on how individual churches might budget, going forward should be postponed.

The COD WILL have to face some realities of actual financial issues. So that part of their role of making decisions between Synods will be critical this year. In fact the Executive team of the CRNA will hopefully present them with a plan/options to consider.