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Synod Wants Yearly Re-affirmation of Covenant for Officebearers By Signing at Classis

Jose Rayas, Classis Arizona: There’s an advantage to having a written declaration.
Steven Herppich

Synod 2024 has instructed “all classes to re-sign the Covenant for Officebearers on a yearly basis,” meaning classes are to select one meeting per year when delegates to that meeting would re-sign the covenant that all officebearers must sign when first ordained or installed.

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

The Covenant for Officebearers is a document that lays out the commitments and beliefs of an officebearer in the church—whether minister of the Word, elder, deacon, or commissioned pastor.

Jose Rayas, Classis Arizona, who served as chair of the committee proposing the new requirement, said “people signed it (the Covenant) 30 years ago, and their positions have changed over the years” and they “have never looked at it again. … That’s why we’re talking about there’s an advantage to having a written declaration, as it confirms and it is a witness that they continue to hold that line.”

Sherry TenClay, Classis Red Mesa, was against the recommendation. She said, “I was married 51 years this past Sunday, and I never asked my husband to sign up for it again.” She added, “We trust each other, we love each other, and we hold each other accountable. … I trust the people in my classis.”

David Swinney, Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan, also compared a marital commitment to the confessional commitment, saying he’s been married for over 30 years and “one of the things my wife and I vowed when we stood before the Lord was to love each other till death do us part. I could argue with the logic here that I never need to tell her (again that) I love her” but that “the fact of the matter is, we do that every single day.” He noted that it “doesn’t lose meaning because we repeat ourselves,” but that “it continues to build the love and trust that exists.”

Cory Nederveld, Classis Georgetown, reporter for the committee, said the heart of the recommendation is “to build trust (among fellow officebearers) going forward.”

Rod Hugen, Classis Arizona, said, “You don’t rebuild trust unless you allow yourself the ability to be hurt again, to be misused, or lied to. Rebuilding trust is not ‘now you’re signing, now you’re signing, now you’re proving’ year after year, after year—that’s not trust. That’s making sure you’re okay. I believe in actual rebuilding of trust, and that means making yourself vulnerable again.”

The proposal to have classes re-sign the covenant yearly came as a response to overtures 66, deferred from 2023, and 19. These requests asked synod to require that delegates to synod re-sign the Covenant for Officebearers, but the responding committee suggested the yearly classis signing instead and to continue the current practice of standing in agreement with the “Public declaration of Agreement with the Beliefs of the Christian Reformed Church in North America” at synod.

Some delegates expressed that requiring yearly re-signing was too big of an ask, but Israel Ledes, Classis Chicago South, said, “To say that we are requiring too much by this recommendation is to be oblivious of the struggles we’ve had (regarding differences in covenantal commitments) these last several years.”

James Reed, Classis Yellowstone, said, “It should be an absolute joy to sign this every single year.”

Synod 2024 also confirmed the ongoing practice of simply standing in agreement at synod.

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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