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June 14, 2023 - 

In recent years, since deacon delegates were invited to the Christian Reformed Church’s synod, there have been more married couples serving at synod together. This year there are three married couples among the delegates.

Julius and Sandra Williams (left), of Mississauga, Ont., and Classis Toronto, came to synod for the first time this year. “Being a minority, when you walk into this (predominantly) white space, it’s male-dominated, it gets overwhelming—I’m not used to this,” said Sandra Williams, an elder delegate. “The good thing about coming here with my husband is that I have somebody to process with.”

Julius and Sandra agree that they feel welcome at synod and that their voices matter.

“I thought there wasn’t much I could do as one person,” said Julius, who is a deacon delegate. “In my study committee, I was proven wrong. There was great deliberation and a sense that we are connected.”

Ed and Jenny Yoon (center), of Phoenix, Ariz., served together at Synod 2017, and this is Ed’s third synod. The couple said they are shocked at how calmly the delegates who disagree express their opinions—they claimed that things would be much louder at a similar meeting of Koreans. They also expressed heartfelt appreciation for the volunteer golf cart drivers. “They are practicing service leadership,” Ed said. The Yoons were sent by Classis Ko-Am, Ed as a minister and Jenny as a deacon.

Clair and Elsa VanderNeut (right), of Tooele, Utah, have been married for 53 years and are still having new life experiences together, including serving as synod delegates as a couple. Clair is a retired pastor who has attended synod before, and Elsa is a deacon attending synod for the first time. They were delegated by Classis Yellowstone.

“We’ve shared our ministries throughout our whole lives,” said Clair, adding that it’s been a “wonderful experience” to be at synod together.  With a laugh, Elsa noted that in the past when Clair was at synod she would visit her sister, which was “way more fun” but she’s glad she’s at synod this year.

Synod 2023 is meeting June 9-15 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at Visit for the synod schedule, webcast, recordings, photos, committee reports, and liveblog. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.

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