Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been quite a summer and fall! Within little more than two weeks I moved from being a parish pastor, planning to retire in Jenison, Michigan, in two years, to being the Executive Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America sitting on the platform at Synod 2011. Even though the change has been fairly abrupt, I see quite unmistakably God’s hand in it all. Now that I have been sitting at this desk for six months, I thought it would be a good idea to send a “pastoral epistle” to the members of the Christian Reformed Church, to give you some indication of where we were, where we are, and where I believe we’re headed. So let’s fasten our seatbelts, shall we?
One of the primary responsibilities the Board of Trustees and Synod 2011 placed on me (in addition to the other many regular duties of the Executive Director) was to form a Task Force Reviewing Structure and Culture. The task force has been formed, has been meeting, and has even created its own website (network.crcna.org/structure-culture). As a result of the task force, though it is too soon to say how, our structure will be adjusted both to better fit the times and to enable better functioning of the denomination’s ministries.
The task force has realized, however, that it will be even more important to address the matter of culture. I am doing all that I can, along with the task force and my Deputy, Rev. Peter Borgdorff, to fashion at all three denominational offices and throughout the denomination a culture of we, not me. We must cooperate and collaborate and pray and work together, not separately or in parallel activities, but in a single direction—for the glory of God and the good of humanity. Please pray that we may all learn better to be Christ’s body at work in God’s world.
In addition, the Board of Trustees asked me to be a “pastoral presence” in Grand Rapids and, to whatever extent it is possible, in Burlington, Ontario, and in Palos Heights, Illinois. In a very real way, I have assumed a position as pastor to three “congregations,” each housed in one of the denominational buildings. I continue to get to know my “parishioners” and to give thanks to God for them and for the gifts they make available to him and to us all.
I want to begin visiting the classes of the Christian Reformed Church in North America after the first of the year to share in person what I have described here, and to bring the positive message of the good things God is making possible for and through the CRCNA. God is reaching to the ends of the earth through us. God is making a difference in North America through us. God is healing pain and bringing justice and alleviating suffering through us. God is proclaiming the good news through us. God is inspiring generosity among us. God is blessing us—to make us a blessing to others.
At this time of year when we are celebrating (or have already celebrated) Thanksgiving and look forward to celebrating the gift of the Christ Child, may we all be overflowing with gratitude and abounding in joy. And let us to pray that God will use our thanks and happiness to touch the world with his love and his peace.
God be with you all!
Joel R. Boot
Executive Director of the CRCNA