“Hopeful, promising, and at a crossroads.” That is how executive director Colin Watson Sr. described the Christian Reformed Church to the delegates of the CRC’s Synod 2022.
With synod meeting for the first time in three years, Watson said being together is “a blessing and a privilege.”
In his Sunday evening speech Watson acknowledged the turbulent times the church is facing. “We find ourselves here—at Synod 2022—with a lot of anxiety and a lot of pressure. We feel the amplified needs of the church. … We wonder how much more this journey can throw at us and how much longer we can endure.”
At the same time, he noted the promising ways that churches are reaching the Our Journey 2025 goals of prayer and spiritual disciplines, intergenerational ministry, diversity and unity, and sharing faith.
After losing hope while working on diversity efforts in the CRC in the 1980s, he said that now “I’ve moved from doubt to hope … hope that God will enable us to move from a monocultural denomination to a fully multiracial, multicultural—and potentially global—denomination,” he said.
Watson displayed a graph showing the decline in CRC membership, emphasizing that the decline is connected to the denomination’s white, upwardly mobile demographics. But he cited with encouragement the recent growth among CRC churches and groups with Korean, Venezuelan, and Southeast Asian ethnicities. He believes such initiatives hold the future of the CRC. “God is bringing the world together and enabling the interconnection of ministries from everywhere to everywhere,” he said. “It is my prayer that we as the CRC lean into this new reality and create a partnership—a family of churches, ministries and institutions that are really on mission to go and make disciples worldwide.”
“Over the last few years the question has been raised—as we look at the decline in membership of the denomination, are we on the road to dying out?” he said. “My answer today is certainly not—not if we follow God’s lead into the new land into which he is taking us.”
Watson closed by sharing several Scripture passages. “We have been through the valley—we have been tested—and God has continued to prove faithful,” he told synod.
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.