Two years ago, members of Sunrise Community Church provided a music video highlighting the work of Synod 2012. Watch it here.
“I don’t know why, synod is spelled with a ‘y.’” It’s catchy, right? However, lacking all requisite skills (beat-boxing, carrying a tune and rhyming to name a few) I will not be producing another such video this year.
Instead, I want to throw another thought out there. Are you ready? Here goes:
I don’t always see the why in Synod.
Sure, Church Order can teach us a few things:
Who is Synod?
The synod is the assembly representing the churches of all the classes. Each classis shall delegate two ministers and two elders to the synod.
When & Where is Synod?
a. Synod shall meet annually, at a time and place determined by the previous synod. Each synod shall designate a church to convene the following synod.
b. The convening church, with the approval of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA, may call a special session of synod, but only in very extraordinary circumstances and with the observance of synodical regulations.
c. The officers of synod shall be elected and shall function in accordance with the Rules for Synodical Procedure.
What is Synod?
The task of synod includes the adoption of the creeds, of the Church Order, and of the principles and elements of worship. Synod shall approve the liturgical forms, the Psalter Hymnal, and the Bible versions suitable for use in worship. No substantial alterations shall be effected by synod in these matters unless the churches have had prior opportunity to consider the advisability of the proposed changes.
a. Upon the nomination of the classes, synod shall appoint ministers, one from each classis, to serve as synodical deputies for a term designated by synod.
b. When the cooperation of the synodical deputies is required as stipulated in the Church Order, the presence of at least three deputies from the nearest classes shall be prescribed.
c. Besides the duties elsewhere stipulated, the deputies shall, upon request, extend help to the classes in the event of difficulties in order that proper unity, order, and sound doctrine may be maintained.
d. The synodical deputies shall submit a complete report of their actions to the next synod
a. Synod shall appoint a committee to encourage ecumenical relationships with other Christian churches, especially those that are part of the Reformed family, as articulated in the synodically approved Ecumenical Charter of the Christian Reformed Church so that the Christian Reformed Church may exercise Christian fellowship with other denominations and
may promote the unity of the church of Jesus Christ.
b. Synod shall designate the churches with whom the Christian Reformed Church is in ecclesiastical fellowship, the churches with whom the Christian Reformed Church is in dialogue, and the ecumenical organizations in which the Christian Reformed Church holds membership or significantly participates.
a. Synod shall send delegates to ecumenical bodies in which the Christian Reformed Church cooperates with other Christian denominations, particularly those sharing the Reformed perspective.
b. Synod may present to such gatherings matters on which it seeks judgment of churches throughout the world.
c. Decisions of ecumenical bodies shall be binding upon the Christian Reformed Church only when they have been ratified by its synod.
All of these things outlined are laudable goals and important issues for the life of the denomination: ecumenical relationships, orthodoxy in belief and worship. (Sidenote: strictly speaking, how many of the reports & overtures in this year’s agenda adhere to this definition of purpose?)
But I still don’t see the why in Synod.
Consider that I have never been a delegate to Synod, I imagine I could learn a thing or two from those of you who have. I may be missing the point and you may have experiences that counter this line of argumentation. I’d love to hear from you.
However, given the disruption of ordinary lives, given the expense attendant to travel costs and lodging and facilities and catering, given the abundance of media technology, given the massive amount of work done by the Board of Trustees throughout the year, not to mention the work of many on staff with various CRC agencies, is it really & truly necessary for us to the do the work of Synod in person?
- Is it possible the day might come when we recognize a thriftier and swifty-er way of doing the work commissioned to us?
- Do we need to be at table together to decide whether we are going to use the KJV or the NIV or the NRSV?
- Do we need to convene to bastions of CRC higher-education to appoint delegates to handle our ecumenical relationships?
- Is there another way of doing this?
- What is there to be gained and what might be lost?
Last week in California, members of the Christian Reformed Church met for a second annual Prayer Summit. I can’t find anything in church order about it but, pretty intuitively, it feels like a good idea.
What would it look like if, rather than meeting to pray in April and meeting to work in June, we got a little Benedictine up in the CRC and did some ora et labora (pray and work)?
What if we nominated delegates, not first of all to decide for us, but to pray for us? And, after praying for us, doing a little bit of committee work and calling it a day.
- What if we prayed – not as salad and dessert – but as the main course itself?
- What if Prayer Summit = Synod? Why not?