The Christian Reformed Church in North America Canada Corporation announced today that it is parting ways with Canadian Ministries director Darren Roorda, effective immediately.
“Darren has been a faithful servant of the church for many years. He will certainly be missed,” said Andy DeRuyter, chair of the CRCNA Canada Corporation (the legal name for the charitable entity in Canada). “Unfortunately, it has become clear that our ideas about how to move forward with our goals and objectives have differed.”
This parting comes in the context of ongoing changes to the CRC’s governance structure. After more than a year of working toward a new structure that would be compatible with Canadian tax laws for charitable organizations, the CRC’s Council of Delegates adopted a recommended structure in May. It includes a new Canadian Office of the CRC, with an executive director-Canada, and an Office of the General Secretary, with two denomination-wide leadership positions: general secretary and chief administrative officer. It’s a change from having a single executive director of the CRCNA and a Canadian ministries director.
Deciding to recommend the plan to Synod 2022 wasn’t unanimous, and it was clear from the discussion of the report that many Canadian delegates were unsatisfied with key parts of the proposal. A vote to delay action on the restructuring report failed 28-18.
Right after that, Roorda left the meeting, typing an expression of disappointment in the video conference text “chat” before signing off of the platform. “The local church could be so well served by a strong and equal shalom-like partnership that allows for a legal, fitting and robust contextual ministry plan for Canada. But that’s not what they are receiving. It’s too bad,” he wrote, in part. “We can’t even get the system to pause long enough to check the first draft of a key leadership document. I weep for the leadership beside me. I weep for every downtrodden ministry leader at every level who has to become part of this poisoned system.”
Following that meeting Roorda took a four-week personal leave.
DeRuyter said Roorda’s responsibilities will be carried out for the time being by Terry Veldboom, director of Finance & Operations (Canada) for the CRC. DeRuyter said the Canada Corporation will work “over the next few weeks to begin the process for filling the role for the coming year and then on a permanent basis.”
Roorda is an ordained minister in the CRC and was hired as Canadian Ministries director in 2014. He was appointed acting executive director of the CRCNA Canada Corporation at the end of 2019, when Canadian members of the CRC’s Council of Delegates first implemented temporary structure changes to address concerns about the previous structure’s compliance with Canadian tax laws. He’s been serving in that role while the Council has worked toward long-term restructuring—a process that can’t be finalized until the Christian Reformed Church’s next synod. The church hasn’t been able to convene its annual assembly for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
History shows a pattern of the Christian Reformed Church being grateful for and wanting to protect its binationality (see “Why Being a Binational Church Is So Important,” The Banner, Feb. 3, 2012) but also being unable to find a mutually agreed upon structure to best live into that desire. Three past Canadian Ministry directors resigned from their positions between 2000 and 2012.
Ray Elgersma, who was hired in 1998, resigned in January 2000 after Synod 1999 decided not to adopt a denominational restructuring proposal that would have aligned the U.S. church structure with the Canadian structure adopted by Synod 1997. After Elgersma, William Veenstra was appointed in 2000, just after synod had approved creating national parity on the CRC’s governance board of the day—an equal number of delegates from Canada and from the U.S. on the Board of Trustees. In 2004, synod revamped the denominational leadership of a general secretary and an executive director of ministries to one executive director of the CRCNA, which moved some of the general secretary duties to the Canadian director. Later that year Veenstra decided to leave the position and return to parish ministry. Bruce Adema was the next Canadian Ministries director. He left in August 2012 and was followed by interim director Ben Vandezande before Roorda was hired in 2014.
DeRuyter said he does not see this parting of ways as part of that pattern. “This is a different circumstance,” he said.
The Banner reached out to Roorda for comment but he was not able to respond in time for publication. (Editor's Note: He has subsequently contacted us to say that he is unable to comment at this time and that, "This silence is upon the board's request.")