2020 Update Regarding Abuse of Power Training for Pastors

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In June of 2019 the synod of the Christian Reformed Church adopted a wide variety of directives made as a response to a report called the Addressing Abuse of Power in the Christian Reformed Church. You can see the context and specifics of all of those adoptions via the article Synod 2019 Acts on Addressing Abuse of Power in the CRCNA

While the Christian Reformed Church did not meet as a synod this year, there was a special meeting of the Council of Delegates that took up many items that could not wait until 2021.One item on the Agenda for Synod that could not wait until Synod 2021 was approving the direction of the development of the abuse of power training for pastors. The specific adoption from Synod 2019 regarding the training was the following (see all the adoptions regarding abuse of power of synod 2019 here): 

Training of pastors (Video Link: Discussion 5:35"-7:02")

That synod mandate the Council of Delegates to form a committee to develop a training program on abuse of power. The committee shall include members from the offices of Candidacy, Pastor Church Resources, Safe Church Ministry, Calvin Theological Seminary, and Calvin College (because of available expertise). The training program shall:

  • be a requirement for all persons entering vocational ministry in the CRC.

  • focus on dynamics of power within the variety of pastoral relationships, boundaries, tools for positive use of power and influence, and tools for preventing harmful use of power and influence.

  • be widely available and presented as enabling effective ministry (not as an impediment to entering ministry).

  • take into account the cultural diversity within CRC churches.

The following was reported as an update for 2020 within the Agenda for Synod 2020:

“The proposal for the training of pastors is under way by means of a group formed by the Ministries Leadership Council under the COD’s direction. We anticipate that a final report and proposal will be presented to the COD in May to be forwarded to synod by way of the COD Supplement.”

Further, reported on page 353 of the Minutes of the Special Meeting of Council of Delegates 2020:

K. That synod note the continuing work being done in addressing abuse of

power matters and adopt the following recommendations for the training of

pastors (COD Supplement section I, M; Appendix C).

1. That synod endorse the training program for pastors as presented in

Appendix C (Included as an attachment in this Network article)

2. That synod encourage the coordination of training for all those involved in addressing abuse of power.

3. That synod endorse the timeline as listed in Appendix C, including requiring all Article 6 candidates for ministry to complete the pilot version of the abuse of power training as part of their candidacy process.

4. That synod clarify precisely for whom this training be considered a requirement, specifically that the training is embedded in the candidacy process for Church Order Articles 6, 7, 8, 23, and 24.

5. That synod receive the report in Appendix C as a fulfillment of the COD’s mandate for this training and commend the ongoing work of developing and providing this training to Safe Church Ministry, Candidacy, and various resource people from Pastor Church Resources, Calvin Theological Seminary, and Calvin University, as well as to the COD-appointed team charged to “act as a guardian of our commitment to foster a culture characterized by respect for all and mutual service” (Acts of Synod 2019,p. 798).

Continued on page 423 of Minutes of the Special Meeting of Council of Delegates 2020:

COD-SM 04

Advisory Committee 2, chair Samuel D. Sutter, presents the following:I. Training of pastors

A. Materials: Council of Delegates Supplement (section I, M, 5)

B. Recommendations

That the COD, on behalf of synod, note the continuing work being done in addressing abuse of power matters and adopt the following recommendations for the training of pastors (COD Supplement section I, M; Appendix C):

1. That the COD, on behalf of synod, endorse the training program for pastors as presented in Appendix C.

2. That the COD, on behalf of synod, encourage the coordination of training for all those involved in addressing abuse of power.

3. That the COD, on behalf of synod, endorse the timeline as listed in Appendix C, including requiring all Article 6 candidates for ministry to complete the pilot version of the abuse of power training as part of their candidacy process.

4. That the COD, on behalf of synod, declare that this training be considered a requirement, and that the training be embedded in the candidacy process for Church Order Articles 6, 7, 8 and all commissioned pastors in Articles 23 and 24.

5. That the COD, on behalf of synod, recommend that the training modules be made available in Korean and Spanish as soon as possible.

6. That the COD, on behalf of synod, receive the report in Appendix C as a fulfillment of the COD’s mandate for this training and commend the ongoing work of developing and providing this training to Safe Church Ministry, Candidacy, and various resource people from Pastor Church Resources, Calvin Theological Seminary, and Calvin University, as well as to the COD-appointed team charged to “act as a guardian of our commitment to foster a culture characterized by respect for all and mutual service” (Acts of Synod 2019, p. 798).

—Adopted

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