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Synod 2024 President Urges Delegates ‘Be Gentle’ in Closing Worship Message

Derek Buikema, president of Synod 2024: “Gentleness is strong.”
Steven Herppich

In the closing worship service of Synod 2024, president Derek Buikema urged delegates to be gentle with one another and with those they might encounter who have strong opinions on the actions taken during synod.

At several points, Buikema emphasized: “Gentleness is strong.”

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

“I recognize that as we go from here, there’s going to be a major temptation to fight in all manner of ways, to engage in kind of the bad fight of acrimony or even slander of other people, when you talk about synod or when you talk about individuals,” Buikema said at the beginning of his message.

“I realize that’s going to be a temptation, and so I want to encourage us to leave and fight the good fight—something that rejects all of that.”


Buikema quoted from 1 Timothy 6:11-12, where the apostle Paul writes to Timothy, encouraging the younger disciple to pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.”

“The good fight in which we engage is not a fight against other churches, or peoples, or denominations,” Buikema said. He implied instead it’s a deeper, spiritual fight, recalling the story from 1 Samuel 16:23, where a young David faces an evil spirit that is troubling King Saul, and plays the lyre to comfort the king and cause the spirit to leave.

“When you’re fighting a big fight, when you’re fighting the big guns, you have to break out the big weapons. The sword of a giant is not enough. When you’re engaged in a fight like that, all you can do is sing … play and sing,” said Buikema, his voice breaking with emotion.

Buikema closed his message demonstrating what he preached, singing a capella, “Oh Lord of Hosts, How Lovely.”

Kevin DeRaaf, executive director of Resonate Global Mission, led delegates in prayer, using Phillipians 4 as a guide.

“Our hearts are grieved with the weight of our ongoing disagreements and divisions. We long to follow you fully and faithfully, yet we recognize that we do not agree on what that looks like. We lament the pain and the brokenness we share as your body of Christ,” DeRaaf said, pausing after each sentence to allow for silence and silent prayer.

Katie Ritsema-Roelofs, worship consultant for Thrive, led synod in the singing of “In Christ Alone,” “How Firm a Foundation,” and the closing doxology and led the final blessing: “Do not be afraid. Go in peace.”

Synod 2024 met 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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