Deacons at Classis & Synod: Why It’s Not Just “Another” Meeting

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Every year in the early part of June, our denomination gathers for what we call synod. Delegates from each classis in North America come together to pray, worship, learn, discuss, and make decisions that will guide our denomination into the future God has set out for us. On a smaller scale, each classis in Canada and the US also has its own meetings throughout the year to help churches on a more ‘local’ level live into their mission and work together to build the Kingdom of God. 

In recent years, a decision was made to allow Deacons to attend both of these larger gatherings as delegates, alongside elders and pastors. This was a hallmark decision as it affirmed the Office of Deacon as being equally as important as the Offices of elder and pastor, the ‘spiritual leaders of the church’. 

Here at Diaconal Ministries Canada we’ve been talking about this for some time and in our conversations, we’ve discovered some of the joys and hopes Deacons have regarding this new opportunity, but we’ve also heard about some of their fears and uncertainty.

In a recent interview with Ada Kloet, a deacon at ClearView Christian Reformed Church in Oakville, ON, she expressed much appreciation for these larger denominational gatherings and for the inclusion of deacons. In her time as a deacon, she has realized that deacons are involved in many different areas of ministry (community engagement, worship, benevolence) and that they do important and impactful work. Since deacons are called to serve the church just like elders and pastors are, and since they are part of the church’s council, “Why wouldn’t deacons also be seated at Classis and Synod?!” But, she went on to say meetings do need to have value for deacons so they’ll want to go and see value in attending.

Her greatest advice for deacons attending these meetings is to “be open to learning and listening”; it’s okay to be the newbie as everyone has been at that place at one time or another. Among the many benefits of attending classis and synod, she added, is that it can help Deacons learn more about what the CRC is about and how God is clearly at work. Look for the full article/interview to come out soon!

So, after many conversations with deacons, CRC staff, Mr. Andy Ryskamp, and others, we’ve complied our own "Top Reasons Why Deacons Are Needed at Classis & Synod." Take a look and see what you think. And share this with all of your deacon friends.

What points do you agree with? What did we miss? We’d love to hear from you! 

Our greatest hope for deacons (and all council members really) is that they will see these larger gatherings as much more than just ‘another meeting.’ As Ada reminds us, these gatherings can be an opportunity to listen and learn and see where God is at work in our denomination and how Deacons can be a part of that!

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I agree wholeheartedly with these good reasons why deacons are needed at classis and synod gatherings. It's a much better and more fruitful meeting when the deacons are there. THANK YOU deacons for serving in this way - we need you.

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From the Diakonia Remixed report:

"Another related principle is that the delegation of deacons to major assemblies is not about equal representation as such, as if there should be some balance of power, but rather it is about the full representation of the whole church which these offices represent. When deacons are missing from major assemblies, the full voice of the church is not heard, nor is the full ministry of the church under discussion. The purpose of the major assemblies is not simply governance and adjudication but deliberation about the church’s character and ministry, a deliberation in which the deacons ought surely to participate."

How about another bullet under reason 1? The whole church is fully represented when all the offices (deacon, elder, pastor) are represented.