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General Secretary Says God is Planting Seeds in the CRCNA

General Secretary Says God is Planting Seeds in the CRCNA
Steven Herppich

Zachary King, general secretary of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, addressed Synod 2024 with a speech focused on seeds of hope and no mention of the distinct fault lines of some churches seeking discipline against others and the divergence of confessional belief.

King read John 12:23-35 and said, “Jesus invites us to recognize that by dying he has planted a seed that has borne extraordinary fruit for the kingdom of God.” King sees God at work: “God is planting seeds in the congregations, classes, agencies, institutions, and ministries of the Christian Reformed Church.”

King shared about four types of seeds he sees God planting in the denomination: those for a global vision, of pastoral approaches to difficult moral issues, of renewal and revival, and even of God’s Spirit at work in governance.

King said he learned from Scott DeVries, who was only able to serve 16 months as director of synodical services. DeVries was diagnosed with advanced cancer in late March and died April 27. DeVries held a belief that surprised many, King said, that “God is at work in the governance of the CRC.” King said DeVries “saw an imperfect people prayerfully grasping and wrestling with God’s Spirit in a time of great upheaval.” King encouraged people wanting to learn more about the work of the Spirit in deliberation to read this article.

Shortly before King addressed synod, the assembly took up a resolution about DeVries. expressing deep appreciation and support to DeVries' family. DeVries was a devoted husband and father, and faithfully served the CRCNA at various levels of ministry. “Through his hard work, wise counsel, and compassionate spirit, he earned our trust and respect,” the resolution read.

On renewal, King said the task from Synod 2023 “to develop a comprehensive unified strategy and plan to arrest and reverse the trend of decline” has felt “daunting.” Membership has been dropping since the late 1990s. But in addressing the assignment, particularly through the Gather initiative, King has heard “hopeful experiences” from leaders in the CRC “of how God is renewing their churches and their ministries.”

And, King said, “God has planted seeds of pastoral responses to difficult cultural situations we’re facing.” From the time of the 1996 report, “God’s Diverse and Unified Family,” which has been a “pastoral guide for the CRCNA,” the percentage of CRC members of ethnic minorities has grown from five percent to now almost 30% of the denomination. A request to Synod 2024, Overture 8, asks to reaffirm this guide.

King shared about a list of helpful resources his office collected to support people with questions about human sexuality. “We discovered rich and pastoral resources to give biblical-rooted guidance to us as we confront this issue” summarized in a video shared with churches. He mentioned the experiences of an LGBTQ+ Hospitality Cohort that “decided to set aside, for a time, the theological discussion around same-sex sexual relationships, and they decided to lean into what would be a hospitable response to their LGBTQ+ neighbors, friends, coworkers, church members.”

King said, “As Christians, we are an increasingly misunderstood minority in the midst of a sexualized culture” and acknowledged that coming decades will face more challenges.

On a global vision, King noted that the center of Christianity has moved to the South and East of North America and Europe. Though many churches are struggling economically, or persecuted, he said, “They are sending their sons and daughters to us. They want to engage, serve, and live among us. They want to be our missionaries.” 

King spoke about Grace Chapel, in New Jersey, a predominantly Korean congregation that planted three churches during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how Classis Rocky Mountain has planted many churches among South Texas immigrants. He also spoke about many multi-ethnic congregations in Canada.

Recommendations on adopting a global vision report to be a guide to CRCNA classes will come to synod this week.

King did acknowledge difficulties at the end of his presentation. “For some of us, these are tough times; for some of us, these are confusing times. If we are open to holding our hopes, dreams, and aspirations loosely, generously, open handedly, and perhaps being willing to die and give up our lives, God can grow new life in those seeds he is planting in us.”

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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