Synod 2022, the Christian Reformed Church’s general assembly, was exceptionally heavy, fraught with emotions and charged deliberations. Perhaps it was most difficult for the officers who had to lead it, particularly the deliberations about human sexuality.
For Jose Rayas, synod’s first-ever Latino president, this was his 14th synod, two of them as an officer. He told synod delegates it also was his hardest. Rayas pastors Valley Ridge Community Church in Socorro, Texas.
Derek Buikema served as vice president, having attended one other synod (2016). Buikema was the person who presided over synod’s discussions of the human sexuality report because Rayas served on the committee that produced that report. Delegates expressed their appreciation for his work in helping delegates navigate parliamentary procedure, always making it clear what it was delegates were voting on and doing his best to allow delegates to express themselves, despite a three-minute (and later two-minute) length allowed for speeches.
Buikema said, “I don’t know that I’ll have overall impressions of this synod until a week or a month afterwards. It feels like a harder synod than any other that I can remember to know where we go after this. But we will be resting in God’s sovereignty.” Buikema is pastor of Orland Park (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church.
Aaron Vriesman, first clerk, and another first-time officer, said he witnessed “a lot of cool moments,” where love between delegates was evident. He said he felt restored to another member after saying to him, “I appreciate what you said, and how you said it,” even though Vriesman didn’t agree with the sentiment. Vriesman said, “He then apologized to me for things he’d said after an article I’d written. We shook hands. There were two or three other moments like that.” Vriesman is pastor of North Blendon CRC in Hudsonville, Mich. It was his third synod.
Luann Sankey, a first-time deacon delegate from Classis Central California, was second clerk. “It was really important that we began way back in March to pray and just bathed this entire meeting in prayer,” Sankey said.
But synod wasn’t all hard moments. Rayas told The Banner, “Twenty years ago we would not have dreamed of this but now there are other churches in other places of the world that are asking what would it look like to become part of the denomination—the idea of (becoming) a multinational or an international denomination. Only God knows where he is going to take us.”
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
Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.