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Documentary Viewing at Synod’s Annual Women’s Dinner

Women attendees of Synod 2024 enjoy food and fellowship at the annual women’s dinner.
Steven Herppich

Women delegates, some staff, and advisers at Synod 2024 gathered June 14 for the Women’s Dinner, an annual event that started in 2017. The dinner had three hosts: Elaine May, Lesli van Milligen, and Amanda Benckhuysen. They are all ordained ministers of the Word and work with Thrive, the Christian Reformed Church’s ministry focused on equipping and encouraging congregations.

Synod is the annual general assembly of the CRCNA. It is meeting June 14-20 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

During the dinner, the hosts showed a 20-minute documentary they created about the ordination of women in the CRC. May said the documentary is “intended for councils and congregations in the process of discerning whether to open the role of pastor to women.”

Before Thrive was formed in 2023 May was the women's leadership developer in the office of Pastor Church Resources. She said, “When I was doing women’s leadership development and supporting women like you in the denomination, I was the person councils would call if they were wondering about opening the office to women. I noticed I didn’t get very many calls.” She added, “I wanted to create a resource that councils could access without telling anyone they were having the conversations.” The video needs to be finalized before it’s ready for churches to view. A release date wasn’t announced.

The number of women delegates at Synod 2024 is lower than in recent years, with 24 women comprising only 13% of the total delegates. This is a drop from 32 women in 2023 and 31 in 2022, when they constituted 17% each year. In 2019, 23% of delegates were women, and the highest recorded proportion of women delegates was in 2018, when women represented 27% of the delegates.

Women have been accepted as delegates to synod since 2008, though not all classes send women delegates or have women serving in the offices of the church. The CRCNA, since 1995, has recognized two valid, biblical convictions on whether the offices of the church are open to women. Classes with a conviction that seating women as delegates is contrary to Scripture have the right to register that protest. Synod 2024’s opening session Friday morning was the first time where a yearly protest from Classis Minnkota was not read in full. Instead, synod president Derek Buikema acknowledged the protest and read a statement agreed upon at Synod 2023: “We, as delegates, acknowledge that there are a multitude of perspectives and opinions represented among us. We recognize ‘that there are two different perspectives and convictions on the issue of allowing women to serve in the offices of deacon, elder, minister or (commissioned pastor), both of which honor the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God’ (Acts of Synod 1995, p. 731). Some object that there are women seated as delegates; others lament that there are not more women among us. We choose to work together despite these differences.”

Synod 2024 is meeting June 14-20 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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