In his second synod as the official prayer shepherd of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Jon Hoekema is working to “raise a culture of prayer.”
Together with Zach King, the denomination’s general secretary, and a few others, Hoekema brainstormed ways to weave prayer more intricately into the work of the annual general assembly.
They decided that prayer and worship will begin every plenary session, not just the morning gathering. “It’s like praying the hours in a monastery,” Hoekema said. Opening worship and prayer will be led by the staff of CRC agencies including World Renew, Resonate, and Thrive.
The day before synod convened on the campus of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., a group of 14 people walked and prayed for two hours around the chapel where synod is meeting, leaving notes for the people who would occupy those spaces, letting them know they’d been prayed for. During synod, people are praying over the deliberations in half-hour time slots using a prayer guide. About 175 people have signed up to pray, and anyone is invited to join them using this Google form. Each morning, a group of delegates has gathered for early morning prayers, and Hoekema has been recording the same prayer framework for each day to share on the CRCNA Facebook page. There is also a prayer room in the basement of the chapel, which few people have found yet, Hoekema said.
“We can’t keep the unity or build the unity in our own strength,” Hoekema said. “Scripture and prayer causes us to pause and raise our eyes above the issues at hand to see God who sits on the throne. Once we see God, that changes us. The Spirit uses that to transform how we engage with one another.”
Paul DeVries, a Grand Rapids pastor who was elected synod president, asked each classis to designate one person who will be ready to pray for the whole group upon request. That way, DeVries can call on a classis when prayer seems to be needed during the deliberations.
Synod 2023 is meeting June 9-15 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at thebanner.org/synod. Visit crcna.org/synod for the synod schedule, webcast, recordings, photos, committee reports, and liveblog. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.