When our denominational Board of Trustees (BOT) announced the resignation of our executive director, Rev. Jerry Dykstra, most of us were surprised. In fact, even Rev. Dykstra was quoted as being surprised. Thus, we had a number of questions. Our questions increased when our Director of Denominational Ministries also resigned, and then we also wondered about the previous resignation of the director of our Safe Church Ministry. Both the Board of Trustees and synod are certainly aware that the denomination expects and deserves some information that helps explain this turn of events. Some questions need to be answered.
In addition to the questions, however, a number of allegations have been raised, especially regarding the BOT. The Board has been accused of wielding too much power, of whitewashing and sanitizing the truth, of deceit, etc. One person hoped “the BOT doesn't use our donations to pay off Jerry and Sandy and buy their silence under the guise of confidentiality agreements.” Another said we ought to hire a competent leader who has proven himself as a corporate executive and the BOT will not be able to push him around.
After the speeches given to Synod 2011 by Rev. Joel Boot, our Interim Executive Director, and Rev. Mark Vermaire, the president of the BOT, another commented, “These were just little political speeches…It's easy to hide behind advisory committees and executive session, but this secrecy will not build up the CRC but just contribute to its decline.”
Accusations about secrecy, advisory committees and executive sessions miss the mark. Synod always handles its work via recommendations from its advisory committees. Synod always goes into executive session when people are discussed. When Rev. Vermaire said, “Because the resignation of Rev. Dykstra is appropriately being explored in an advisory committee, I will not address it tonight,” he was not hiding behind an advisory committee. He was acknowledging that the BOT’s work is properly supervised by synod. In fact, he stated such: “We welcome and appreciate the oversight and responsibility of synod, through its advisory committee, to attend to this matter.”
Let’s assume that Rev. Vermaire would have made some comments about this matter. Based on the repeated accusations leveled at the BOT one can imagine that someone would have said, “I'll bet that explanation is just a 'little political speech' to paper over what really happened. Why is the BOT attempting to run the show again? Why doesn’t it keep its mouth shut since this matter has already been assigned to an advisory committee?"
It's easy to criticize people at the top, and we all do it---our council, our classis, our synod, our boss, our president, etc., etc. Criticism gets easier when we don't personally know the people we're criticizing. We need to remember that BOT members are volunteers, ministers and church members just like the rest of us, and are attempting to do what is best for the church. That doesn't mean we can't question their judgment. That does mean there’s a certain attitude that must characterize our questioning.
When I participate in the ordination service of a candidate or the installation of elders and deacons, I frequently read Hebrews 13:17: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” I typically say, “That doesn't mean we always have to agree any more than our children have to agree when they submit to our leadership in their lives. We don't have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand, but if the church is going to be a vital force in our lives and in the life of this community, leaders and followers certainly must walk hand in hand.”
I like to see a bit more of that attitude displayed when questions are raised and comments are posted.