Nobody is Objecting to Lawyers at Synod

Nobody is Objecting to Lawyers at Synod
Steven Holwerda, Mark J, Joel Huyser, Doug Vande Griend, Bonnie Zigterman, Jul Medenblik, and Ben Verhulst are among the 200 or so participants at Synod 2022.
Photo by Steven Herppich
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Among the attendees to Synod 2022 are seven lawyers, some practicing and some not. Their professional experience allowed them to offer insight into conversations in their respective committees. 

Synod is the general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church. Regional groups of churches (classes) delegate ministers, elders, and deacons to the assembly. Those who are elders and deacons come from many professions. 

“Lawyers are good at asking ‘then what?’” said Doug Vande Griend, Classis Columbia. This question allows them to think ahead and consider the impact of their conversations and decisions.

The other members of the legal profession included Ben Verhulst from Classis Wisconsin, Bonnie Zigterman from Classis Northern Illinois, Steven Holwerda from Classis Central Plains, Joel Huyser, who is the interim director of Resonate Global Mission and interim U.S. director of ministry operations, and Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary. Another attorney from Classis Arizona did not wish his name printed because of the nature of his work.

“I wanted to thank you for all this pro bono advice you gave us,” said Michael Kooy, Classis Chicago South, reporting for his committee that presented to synod on changes that strengthen the CRC’s abuse response process. “The lawyers were indispensable. You really donated your time, thank you.”

Vande Griend said his committee did turn to him for guidance on some topics. He also said that “everyone has unique perspectives” and that everyone brings their experiences and contributes at synod. 

When Verhulst’s committee was having difficulties understanding bylaws, he used his legal experience to contribute. “It was my job to explain the bylaws and how they contradict themselves,” he said.

Vande Griend said he wasn’t the only lawyer on his committee. He joked, “If you have one (lawyer), you don’t trust them, but if you have two, you do.” He confirmed that they did agree throughout the conversations.


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

About the Author

Kristen Parker is a freelance writer. She has a passion for words and creativity. Kristen and her husband Chris, enjoy board games and thrift shopping. Kristen attended Barrie First CRC her whole life, though she has recently moved to Stratford, Ont. and is attending Stratford CRC.

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