At its opening session June 9, Synod 2023 elected the four officers who will lead delegates through a challenging, potentially divisive agenda. Two are American, two are Canadian. Unlike last year's synod, there were no women or people of color among this year's officers.
Paul DeVries, pastor of Brookside Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., was elected president. Serving at synod for the ninth time as a delegate from Classis Thornapple Valley, DeVries brings a wealth of experience. He served as synod president in 2015 and chaired and reported for numerous advisory committees to synod. He also served as chair of the Council of Delegates from 2019 to 2021, and served on the previous CRC executive, the Board of Trustees. This past year, DeVries served on the in loco committee that Synod 2022 appointed to oversee Neland Avenue CRC’s compliance to that synod’s rulings.
The vice president of this year’s synod will be Chad Steenwyk, pastor of Central Avenue CRC in Holland, Mich. This is his third time as a synod delegate. Steenwyk chairs the leadership team of the Abide Project, a group that promotes upholding the traditional understanding of human sexuality within the CRC. A former bank vice president and loan officer, Steenwyk has served as president of the CRC Loan Fund, as a board member of Holland Christian Schools, and as a member of Classis Holland’s executive team.
Elected first clerk is Henry Kranenburg, pastor of West End CRC in Edmonton, Alta., and a delegate from Classis Alberta North. This is Kranenburg’s 10th time serving as a synod delegate, and he has twice served as synod’s second clerk (1999 and 2003). He has chaired the Back to God Hour (now ReFrame Ministries) board and vice-chaired Dordt University’s board of trustees.
Richard Bodini, a minister at Holland Christian Homes in Brampton, Ont., will serve as synod’s second clerk. This is Bodini’s fourth time serving as a delegate to synod, and he has served on the CRC’s Judicial Code Committee. Bodini has been on the executive team of Classis Toronto as well as its ministry and race relations committees. He also served on the planning team for the Canadian National Gathering in 2016 and 2019.
DeVries addressed delegates just after he and the other officers were elected: “We have difficult issues ahead of us, issues on which people disagree passionately.”
He read from Lamentations 3:24: “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.” He encouraged delegates not to speak from unhappiness or frustration, but rather to wait, think, and reflect on the Lord.
“We’re not here to win or lose a controversy,” DeVries implored, “we’re here to follow Christ obediently.”
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.