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The U.S. and Canada ministry boards of the Christian Reformed Church in North America met in concurrent online video conferences Feb. 15, between meetings of the binational denomination’s Council of Delegates.

The bulk of each meeting was receiving reports and updates from the board executives, transitional executive director Al Postma in Canada, and director of U.S. ministry operations Dan DeKam in the U.S.; ministry directors; and from Joint Ministry Agreement convener Shirley DeVries.

The U.S. ministry board learned that the sale of the denomination office at 1700 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, Mich., put on the market in September, is still pending. An interested party with an option on the property is completing a due diligence phase. Nothing in that process has stalled, DeVries said, so U.S. ministry staff working in that building continue to prepare for a move, culling furniture and things they don’t need to transfer with them to a new location. Many items were able to be shared with local CRC congregations who could use them.

A transition team is also still working on finding a suitable spot to relocate. DeVries told U.S. ministry board members that they’d had six or seven walk-throughs of potential buildings and also are exploring a six-month lease if the timing of a sale required it, though, “we had hoped we wouldn’t have to move twice.”

The Canada Ministry Board discussed the recent Stories and Strategies event, noting in its minutes “about the possibility of hosting this virtual event more frequently, possibly twice a year.” And the board “discussed potential next steps” related to Toward CRC Canada discussions “that will be reviewed by the executive committee.” (The reporter for The Banner was excused from this portion of the meeting.) There was to be a meeting between the executive committee of the Canadian Ministry Board and the steering committee of Toward CRC Canada this week.

In an overview of his report for the Canada Ministry Board, Postma noted that justice ministries in Canada are navigating restaffing after Mike Hogterp, the former director of Citizens for Public Dialogue, left for another position.

Postma spoke about how he has been working with Pablo Sun Kim, whose anti-racism and intercultural conciliation work is expanding to work with churches. A previous focus on internal training is being integrated into the HR department, which gives it “a strong foundation to be built off of and releases Pablo to be more engaged in external work directly with churches,” Postma said.

Postma noted work with the All Ontario Youth Convention lead team to “figure out some relationships with AOYC.” Currently, legally the AOYC, which formed in the 1970s, is a ministry of the CRC, Postma’s report clarified. Hosted for many years in May at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., the convention missed meeting for a few years during the COVID pandemic, remounted a one-day event at Redeemer University in 2022, and canceled last year’s gathering after the advertised speaker caused controversy.

Lesli van Milligen reported on behalf of Thrive at the Canada board meeting, and co-director Chris Schoon reported at the U.S. ministry board meeting. Van Milligen shared about the importance of supporting vacant churches in their pastor search. “We are spending the current 3-6 months upping our operations using our regional connectors to check in on congregations more regularly,” she said. Schoon said working with collected data, Thrive has a mini task force to begin addressing the different needs of churches at different stages of the process. “There is a difference between churches where a vacancy has been 12-16 months and in the period of 16-18 or beyond,” Schoon said. He also noted the impact on classes (regional assemblies) where at some points in the year as many as 50% of the classis churches are without a pastor. Thriving Essentials is one tool recommended when a congregation is faced with a vacancy or transition.

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