Will Synod Have Adequate Time to do Its Work Well?

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Two ministers and two elders delegated by the forty-seven regional groupings of CRC churches (classes) will gather this June in Grand Rapids, MI. These one hundred eighty-eight officebearers will make decisions concerning the various ministries of the denomination and on the recommendations of a number of study committees. Will they have adequate time to do justice to the work assigned to them?

Prior to 1997 Synod began on the Tuesday of one week and ended in the middle or near the end of the next week. Because synod spanned two weeks it was called a “two-week synod.” In an attempt to increase the diversity of the delegates, Synod 1996 voted to go to a “one-week synod,” a gathering that began on the Saturday of one week and could meet till the Saturday of the next week. Attendees would have to take off only one week, not two, from their places of employment, and hopefully this would enable more people to serve as delegates.

In the years since that change was made, some have said that synod was losing its deliberate nature because delegates felt rushed, and discussions were curtailed by time limits. At Synod 2010 this sentiment was heard again. Synod 2010, by exception (Agenda for Synod 2010, p. 11) was scheduled to end at noon on Friday because denominational leaders had to be in Grand Rapids later that day to convene a special meeting of Reformed leaders. Thus, synod had five and a half days to do its work. (While in session, synod was informed that it had only five days because its meeting space was needed for a Friday funeral.)

Synod 2011 must end at noon on Thursday, June 16, because a joint session with the synod of the Reformed Church in America is scheduled for the afternoon of that day. Because synod must end then, it will begin on Friday, June 10, a day earlier than usual. Though unstated we have another exception and, like Synod 2010, this synod will have only five and a half days to do its work.

Will that be sufficient? The overtures in the Agenda indicate that the churches/classes are interested in addressing a number of the reports that will be presented. Will the delegates have adequate time to do that well? Will synod be the deliberative body we expect it to be? With an eye on the clock will someone make a motion to restrict speeches to three or five minutes so that, to use the words of one delegate, “we will not have a good discussion but will only be billiard balls bouncing off each other?

We’ll soon know the answers to those questions. 

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Good points and questions George! I don't think Synod has done a service to the church by hurrying the process and shorting the time in which it meets.

Likewise I don't think elders, deacons, ministers, and those in the pew have done a service to the denomination as well. Many don't read the Agenda or the Acts of Synod. The general feel is "They (Synod? BOT? ED?) know what to do. They can make the decisions that will need to be made."

It seems to me that many churches operate on a local basis... not even at the classical level, just the local level. They seem to do what they feel they need to ro should do.

In many ways we are all responsible for Executive Director quitting. We have neglected our duty as office bearers and church members of the CRCNA.

The question is, "Are we all willing to do the work that is needed to keep the CRCNA together?" That is keep up on decisions, participate in the decision and deliberative process of council, classis, and synod? Are we willing to study and learn and understand how the denomination works, how classis functions, and how a church council goes about its work? Are we willing to keep one another accountable?

It almost seems that the denomination functions more like a hierarchy.

Thank you George for being both a front runner and a churchman who looks at doing things the right way. Maybe you should be up front with a copy of the church order in hand to guide Synod 2011.

Thanks Richard,

   Your comments are asking the right questions. We as a the polity, are quick to point out  defects with decisions being made by Synod,BOT or anyone brave enough to lead. We are responsible as you noted for the lack of leadership in making these aspects of are church function as they were intended. The denominational leadership has tried to fill the void by prodding us to act. We need to find unity of purpose as the Gospel testifies too.

 Ken

Participant

OK, yet another resignation...you wonder if Synod will have enough time: http://www.thebanner.org/news/article/?id=3360 

Participant

I was a first time delegate in 2009.  Though amazed at the efficiency of Dee Recker and her team in Synodical services(?), it certainly was a rushed meeting.  There is something fundamentally wrong with "we are out of time folks ... it is time vote" in a deliberative body that attempts to prayerfully discern what the Spirit's leading is.  One barely gets to hear insightful perspectives and then you vote.  More time is desperately needed for people to be able to digest what is discussed on the floor of Synod and in the committees and then to prayerfully seek some concensus of understanding, let alone which way you are going to vote.  Otherwise what you really have is a democratic body that is simply voting what they decided beforehand to vote.  If that is the case then it would make more sense to me for the local church to mull over the main decisions to be discussed and to mail in their vote. You might get more grass roots connections to the issues.  The time pressure makes deliberations on particular comments really impossible. 

Could not still more Synodical work be done ahead of time over the internet or something?  That way, when delegates arrive, they can spend the time on the main things.  I think the agenda planning powers that be, need to be more ruthless in what actually needs to be done on the floor of Synod.  Could not financial and ministries reports be handled outside of Synod or ahead of Synod?  Cannot we empower the Board of Trustees to approve the work of ministries and institutions, hire new persons, examine new candidates?  It is nice of course for ministry students to be presented to Synod, but honestly, they still are not approved until a Classis examines them anyway, so why not download that to the Classis where the person is going to be serving, let that be the climax of their ordination journey, not the afterword that it seems to be.  Just some thoughts.