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Synod Approves Effort to Strengthen Relationships With Churches Outside North America

Aaron Greydanus, reporter for Advisory Committee 6, lays out the Global Vision Team recommendations.
Steven Herppich

Delegates to Synod 2024 unanimously approved recommendations aimed at strengthening relationships between the Christian Reformed Church in North America and churches outside North America, adopting the Global Vision Team report from the Council of Delegates.

These recommendations include the introduction of a “Vision Implementation Team.” According to Zachary King, general secretary of the CRCNA, the long-term work of that team would be “the possibility of developing an ecclesiastical body that would be the global CRC church.” The body would not be a “single global denomination,” but rather an opportunity for the CRCNA and its global denominational partners “to go deeper in partnership” with each other.

Synod is the annual general assembly of the CRCNA. It is meeting June 14-20 in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Council of Delegates is the church’s ecclesiastical board that works on behalf of synod in between meetings of synod.

The development of such an ecclesiastical body, which will not come to synod until at least 2027, would mean that “synod would have to delegate some authority to that body, so that we could come together and reflect and discern,” said King.

More immediately, according to the approved recommendations, the Vision Implementation Team would focus on making an “inventory of resources” for churches and classes considering affiliations from worldwide churches.

"What we're doing immediately is working with the classes themselves so they can dive deeper into the relationships they're already having with churches outside of North America," King said.

The team would also engage in dialogue with CRCNA agencies and classes as well as churches outside North America to “identify concrete barriers and opportunities to build mutually edifying ecclesiastical relationships.” Their findings would be given in a report at the Council of Delegates’ winter meeting.

At the request of Derek Buikema, synod president, King prayed after the recommendation passed: “Lord, you have partnered us with pre-existing churches for many decades now. … Lord, as we have been amazed, astounded by the beauty of your global church, we recognize that this comes with growing pains.”

King acknowledged that “sometimes we struggle” with “functions and procedures,” and that “sometimes it’s difficult to engage with and go deeper with members of our church who come to us, maybe speaking different languages, coming from different regions.” He asked that, as the denomination moves forward with the “next steps of the global vision,”God “would bless this church, that you would give us eyes to see and ears to hear.”

Synod also voted to encourage classes “to continue developing their own connections to international churches,” using the adopted Global Vision Team report as a guide.

CRCNA classes and churches have developed relationships with a number of congregations outside North America. Peace Christian Reformed Church of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Gate of Testimony Church of Gbarnga, Liberia, for instance, established a relationship as “sister churches” in March 2023; they have shared two joint services using technology.

Gate of Testimony Church’s home denomination, the Christian Reformed Church of Liberia, was approved earlier in the synod session as the CRCNA’s latest “church in cooperation.” The “church in cooperation” status indicates a “stage of exploration for a closer relationship, or with which there is a memorandum of understanding or some other form of partnership,” according to the CRCNA’s ecumenical charter.

At the end of the global relationships discussion, Herb Scheur, Classis Northcentral Iowa, requested a prayer of thanksgiving for the establishment of the CRCNA and the Christian Reformed Church of Liberia as churches in cooperation. In his prayer, he thanked God for “for this opportunity to reach and cooperate with other people in your family,” especially in light of the sometimes “complicated relationship” between the United States and Liberia.

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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