Synod 2022, the Christian Reformed Church’s general assembly, convened on May 25 via Zoom video conferencing, while observers could follow it via a livestream. Although the opening session was not in person, Synod 2022 started with worship and hearing the Word of the Lord just as it would if it was meeting in person. Delegates also elected their officers for the proceedings.
Worship was led by Dirk vanEyk, lead pastor of Encounter Church, a multi-site congregation in Kentwood and Fulton Heights, Mich., and the host church for Synod 2022. He welcomed delegates, reminding, “worship is the context for everything that we do.” Before preaching from John 17 vanEyk encouraged participants to join voices (while muting their microphones) with his congregation’s singing of “Same God” by songwriters Chris Brown, Steven Furtick, Pat Barrett, and Brandon Lake. (The recording was made earlier.)
VanEyk said he was conscious that there are “nerves and an anxiousness that will stretch our capacity to be patient with one another in the weeks ahead,” but he takes comfort that Jesus himself prayed for the unity of future believers (John 17:20). He pointed out that Jesus included among his 12 closest disciples two people with opposing approaches to relating to the Roman Empire—Simon the zealot and Matthew the tax collector. Jesus recognized, vanEyk said, that “Our unity demonstrates his resurrection. He recognized that a divided world needs a united church.” The purpose of Jesus praying for our unity, vanEyk said, was “so that the world may believe” (John 17:21). He said the world is watching “how we love each other, serve each other and listen with compassion to each other,” and encouraged participants to “in the footsteps of Jesus, be a line-crosser, to bring others back into community with you.” Recalling the already unique focus on prayer ahead of Synod 2022, vanEyk described how prayer will continue to be front and center—at stations in the lobby outside of the plenary sessions and through “prayer buddy benches,” borrowing from an elementary school staple where someone in need of a friend sits on the “buddy bench.”
Synod 2019 had accepted Encounter’s invitation to be the host church of Synod 2020, which did not convene because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CRC’s Council of Delegates, which serves in the interim of synod, instead extended the invitation for this year. Encounter celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020. VanEyk, the host church’s pastor, was a delegate to Synod 2019. (See Church Planters Challenge the Church to Grow June 19, 2019.)
Following worship, the livestream was paused while synod delegates, guests, advisers, and staff met in video breakout rooms to pray, using Colossians 3:5-17 as a guide.
Synod’s voting for officers took longer over the video platform than it typically does in-person and required a do-over of the vote for president (it ended in the same result). Some expressed frustration, and one delegate, Rev. David Bosscher, from Classis Thornapple Valley, played a recording of the “waiting” music from the game show Jeopardy! over the livestream. VanEyk, presiding over the meeting until the election of the president, thanked participants for their patience. Following the election, executive director Colin P. Watson Sr. introduced the assignments for Synod 2022’s advisory committees, and synod voted to affirm them. (See also Synod: What It Is and How it Works and Synod 2022: What to Watch.)
There will be introductory advisory committee sessions for delegates via video conferencing on June 1 and 2. Deliberations will not happen before Synod 2022 convenes in person on the campus of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., June 10-16.
Synod 2022 is meeting at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 10-16. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at thebanner.org/synod, download the Banner app on your mobile device, or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook. On Twitter follow #crcsynod or twitter.com/crcna. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church (it did not gather in 2020 or 2021). Connect to the meeting’s livestream, read advisory committee reports, and find other resources at crcna.org/synod.