Sorry for not writing for two weeks. Rose and I travelled to The Gambia, accompanying CRWM and CRWRC staff and family from West Africa on a spiritual retreat. Even though we couldn’t go to Mali because of the aftershocks of it recent military coup d’etat, we did deepen relationship with CR folks whose ministries we have read about for years and now met face-to-face. Their stories about the people they work alongside in Muslim nations once again evoked my thanks to God for the Christian Reformed part of His church. In North America and overseas the CRC is becoming more and more colourful and diverse—a great opportunity and also a cause for misunderstanding. We see both in this year’s Agenda.
At almost 600 pages this Agenda approaches the backpack-breaking Agendas of the 1970s with their long reports on homosexuality, “office and ordination” or the numbing repetitiveness of the overtures of the early- to mid-1990s about Women in Church Office (WICO). Coupling WICO with tangentially related hermeneutical issues on how to present evolution at denominational schools gave us not only long agendas, but passionate, sometimes divisive debates. Have we healed from those events yet?
Perhaps this Agenda and synod together will give us a hopeful Spirit-led crucible in which to prove and strengthen our family strength and resilience—or not. The “Contents” are fascinating. Even annual reports this year are anything but routine, especially the appendices. A Board of Trustees appendix details the reorganization of The Network—surely of interest to this readership. The lone appendix to Calvin College’s report introduces Dr. Michael K. LeRoy as the single nominee for college president. Has an alumnus of a school other than Calvin and not a bred-in-the-bone Christian Reformed member ever been nominated—or even interviewed—for such a key denominational position? Regardless, Calvin’s Board clearly thinks Dr. LeRoy is God’s choice for the job. Not only is the board presenting him as the only nominee; they do so with the confidence of an enthusiastic and publicly announced unanimous vote.
There are more nuances of many colours in the Agenda that I’ll be highlighting you in more regularl blogs, now that I’m back in the land of hard copies and instant internet. But I leave you today with this hopeful vision: As I sat at Gate B-40 in the Brussels Airport waiting for our flight, I saw people of at least a dozen different nationalities and even more languages. A few hours later we all boarded one airplane, made in Europe, run by an Indian company, and headed to Toronto, one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities.
Among us we are all able to communicate basically. If we spent a long time together, we’d have to learn to live together deeply. Why? Because if, as Richard Mouw claims, there is Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport, the Holy Spirit that John Calvin adored was also mysteriously present in that planeload of different tongues, tribes and peoples. This year’s Agenda for Synod begs for that same Spirit’s power and presence to urge us to learn to communicate, to talk, sing, pray, eat, live and love together as we see our denomination with opportunities to welcome more and more diversity within Holy Spirit unity. More soon on how the “Contents” of the Agenda invite us in that direction.