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Synod 2024 Opens With Worship, Training, Challenges

Thrive’s Julia Rathbun and Reggie Smith helped to lead Synod 2024 in opening training.
Steven Herppich

As Synod 2024 got under way, host congregation Lee Street Christian Reformed Church in Wyoming, Mich., led in worship, pastor Steve De Vries from Lee Street preached a message of humility and gratitude, general secretary Zachary King introduced guests, officers gave announcements, interim president of Calvin University Greg Elzinga welcomed synod to campus, and the Christian Reformed Church’s Thrive ministry led training designed for delegates to explore sharing power and privilege.

Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. It is meeting June 14-20 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Power and Privilege Training

Following instructions from Synod 2019, three ministry consultants for Thrive led Synod 2024 through a Power and Privilege training session. Julia Rathbun, safe church consultant, and Sean Baker, ministry consultant, led the training, and Reggie Smith, diversity consultant, closed the session with prayer. These training sessions started in 2022.

Rathbun said, “For synod to work well, all delegates of every age, ethnicity, and gender need to feel empowered, encouraged, and supported to participate in the conversations here.” She said, “We need all the parts of the body to participate and to work together to flourish” and then read 1 Corinthians 12:15-18.

Baker led the delegates through a leadership grid that he also shared at Synod 2023. Baker said, “We use this chart to see how leaders respond in challenges,” noting that everyone has a default box—and every church has a default box.

“I know we have truth-leaning people in this room, and I know we have grace-leaning people in this room—we need you both.” He continued, “We’re going to need some grace in this room—expect that God put us all here for a reason, and at least one of those reasons is to love each other as well as we possibly can.”

Challenges Acknowledged

Synod 2024 president Derek Buikema thanked Thrive for the training and recognition of difficulties. “Things are challenging—this is hard—and that is worth naming,” he said. “I’m thankful for all of you who are here to answer the call to be present and engage in the work of the church.” He continued, “You and I are not here as representatives of a certain church, classis, or organization—we are here to represent the interests of the Lord God, we are here as representatives of Jesus to shepherd a portion of his Church well.”

Initial actions of reading the public declaration of agreement with beliefs of the CRCNA, accepting Buikema’s rulings to allow overtures to be processed by advisory committees, and accepting as communications three overtures that the Office of General Secretary had deemed to be “communications” provoked some discussion and challenges to the chair.

By votes neither challenge was accepted and the rulings stood.

Delegates were dismissed from the opening session to begin deliberating in their nine advisory committees. These committees cover specific parts of the agenda assigned to them. They will spend much of June 14 and 15 discussing, and then Synod 2024 will take up recommendations from these groups later in the week.

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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