Roorda Dismissal Prompts Questions; Board Says End Vision is Same

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The board of directors of the Canada Corporation of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (the entity that constitutes the CRC in Canada) is meeting this Saturday by video conference. Ahead of that meeting The Banner had the opportunity to speak with board president, Andy DeRuyter, and vice-president, William Koopmans, seeking to understand the board’s recent move to release Canadian Ministries director Darren Roorda and how the board will govern the organization through the denominational restructuring that is currently underway.

The CRCNA Canada Corporation announced July 6 that it was parting ways with Roorda. The release, which was effective immediately, came after “prayerful discernment following the Council of Delegates’ recent adoption of proposed leadership changes,” the announcement said.

Because of the wording of the announcement, which included a quote from DeRuyter that said, “Unfortunately it has become clear that our ideas about how to move forward with our goals and objectives have differed,” some people in the Canadian CRC community got the impression that the board was presenting a new or different vision. A letter circulating among Canadian pastors, to be directed to the Canadian board, says, “The only information that we have regarding Darren’s dismissal is that there was a difference in vision. If the case for dismissal is a difference in vision, then we are eager to know what the vision is that we are being led into.”

DeRuyter said he hasn’t seen that letter, but when it does come to the board it will receive a response, as has all other communication. “I think there is some idea out there that we have all of a sudden come up with a whole new vision, but that is not the case at all,” DeRuyter said. He said vision can encompass different things: “what your goal is; how you get to that goal; what’s your leadership style with that goal.

“The end result is still the same: Contextualized ministry in Canada, CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) compliance, working on implementing the SALT (Structure and Leadership Taskforce) recommendations, remaining one denomination—all those goals are basically the same. It’s how we get there where the difference came in, and the style of leadership. What we saw as a board, and I think what Darren saw as our acting executive director, that’s where we diverged, and it became kind of a stumbling block.”

DeRuyter said he was not able to say more than that because of non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements as the board and Roorda work out the separation agreement.

Roorda, contacted for comment, said he was unable to speak at this time, upon the board’s request.

The CRCNA Canada Corporation board, with the board of the CRCNA U.S. corporation, make up the CRC’s Council of Delegates. That full council, which meets three times a year to carry out the work of the CRC’s synod, includes a delegate from every classis in the CRC and a few at-large delegates. Currently Canadian delegates make up about one-third of the full council.

The CRC has wrestled for decades to find a structure and organizational culture to suit the desire for continued ministry as a binational church. “Fear is something that just comes from the history of what we’ve been through over the last 20 years and not wanting to go back from where we’ve come from,” DeRuyter said. But he and Koopmans, who were both part of the taskforce that developed the report adopted in May, believe the tools are there for a lasting partnership. “If the opportunities of the SALT report are embraced and everybody participates in that with good grace and with a sense of unity and purpose, the outcome is going to be good,” Koopmans said, noting that in particular the working out of joint ministry agreements would be “essential and will have an anticipated, very positive role.” 

“We have to learn from the past decades of conversation, that in order to be successful we need a combination of good structures and good will,” Koopmans said.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.

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