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Prayer Team Expands Pre-synod Prayer Gatherings

Jon Hoekema leads an early morning prayer session during Synod 2023.
Steven Herppich

On Tuesday, June 11, 28 people met at Calvin University for a pre-synod prayer service focused on praise and thanksgiving as the Christian Reformed Church in North America prepares for Synod 2024.

The service—led by Jon Hoekema—was one of several opportunities aimed at encouraging prayer before and during synod, the annual general assembly of the CRCNA. Two other gatherings are offered before synod convenes June 14 and runs until June 20 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

While prayer has long had a place at synod, Tuesday’s service was the first of its kind, according to Hoekema. The other pre-synod prayer events are also relatively new, including a call for prayer in the 40 days leading up to synod—introduced in 2022—and a Thursday prayer walk—introduced in 2023.

Organized prayer also will take place during synod, including 30-minute prayer vigils each morning and people praying in the halls and in the chapel during synod sessions. These practices existed to some extent before 2022 but have received more attention in recent years.

The increased focus on prayer is partly a response to an initiative—endorsed by the Council of Delegates in May 2021—calling the CRCNA to pray as it prepared for Synod 2022. Hoekema was hired to serve as a prayer shepherd, a role that includes “for synod, developing a culture of prayer and surrounding our gatherings with prayer,” said Hoekema.

The June 11 gathering included singing of hymns, a reading of Psalm 8, a time for silent reflection, and opportunities for individuals to pray. Early in the meeting, Hoekema reminded participants that the point of the event is to pray God’s will, “not to pray our own agenda.” Cindy Smith, a participant in Tuesday’s gathering who plans to attend the other pre-synod events, described the purpose of the gatherings as “preparing the way for when the delegates arrive.”

Hoekema said the idea to have pre-synod prayer gatherings like the one hosted Tuesday came from a fellow pastor, and he hopes that they will continue at future synods. “I’m hoping to have this be something that would be ongoing,” said Hoekema.

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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