Andy de Ruyter, chair of the CRC’s Council of Delegates, reported on—and defended—the work of the Council on behalf of synod, the denomination’s general assembly. He was addressing synod delegates during an unusual Sunday-night session of synod June 12.
The Council is synod’s interim committee, carrying out the work of synod when it is not in session. With two canceled synods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, synod has not been in session for three years, and much has happened in that time.
“We have missed you,” de Ruyter told delegates. “Your decisions, judgments, and direction are really the oxygen that the Council of Delegates breathes. What you do and decide will make things clear.” He insisted that in the interim, “there is one thing we have not forgotten: the Council of Delegates is not synod.”
De Ruyter acknowledged that not everyone thinks the Council has remained within the lines of its mandate. He said, “Some are concerned that (the Council) has overstepped our boundaries and … assumed authority we didn’t have.” He assured the synodical delegates that despite these criticisms the Council has acted cautiously, asking not only whether they had the authority to take a given action but whether they should do so.
De Ruyter mentioned two specific actions of the Council that have generated controversy. The first was the Council’s action with respect to Neland Avenue CRC, a Grand Rapids, Mich., congregation that ordained a deacon who is in a same-sex marriage. The Council sent a letter to the Neland council “grieving Neland’s decision to break covenant with the CRC,” but refrained from taking further action against the church, believing that to do so would be to exceed the authority of the Council.
The second was to proceed with a major administrative restructuring of the denomination. This restructuring was prompted by regulations of Canada Revenue Agency that require that money contributed to charities by Canadians be under the “direction and control” of Canadians. Legal advisers to the Canada Corporation (the Canadians on the Council) suggested that if the denomination did not take immediate action to bring the denomination into compliance with this rule, Christian Reformed ministries in Canada could lose their charitable status.
In this instance, de Ruyter said the Council believed that action on behalf of synod was required and within their mandate. Part of the fallout was that Steve Timmermans, the former executive director of the CRC, resigned. Later Darren Roorda, the Canadian ministries director, was dismissed.
De Ruyter concluded by expressing his gratitude for the present synod. He said, “We meet face-to-face not as Canadians or Americans but as brothers and sisters, the family of God, the body of Christ.”
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.