Diakonia Remixed Report To Synod

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In a few months (which we all know will zoom by), Synod will be considering the Diakonia Remixed report. (It can be found here).

Have you read the report yet? It doesn't take that long and I highly recommend it. As deacons are leaders in the church, this report is encouraging Synod to fully recognize the parity in offices between elders and deaons by creating space for deacons to be at the major assemblies, thus fulfilling more completely their call to leadership. There are also some recommended changes to the Church Order.

This is often the time of year when Classis meets and it would be great if we could send overtures from our own councils in support of this report so that the message "this is good!" gets to the Synod floor!

So as individuals, as churches, as a classis - read it, talk about it, bring your questions to the table, and let's dialogue about why now is the time for this change - because I think it is, and I know I'm not alone.

Do you agree? What are you thoughts on the report? Any hesitations? Words of encouragement?
 

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Melissa,

This is a great reminder and I just wanted to give it a "bump" to help keep it in people's radar.  I especially wanted to point out your recommendation to bring overtures of support to classis and synod concerning the report.  You folks have done great work on an important issue that has literally been discussed for something like a century.  Bavink, Kuyper, Wm. Heyns all talked about making deacons part of the broader assemblies.  It has come up before Synod before but the pushback was always that it wasn't the traditional way of understanding the office.  Hopefully the tipping point will take place this summer.

Let's not make this the "sleeper" at synod that's not discussed until Friday afternoon.  Let's give it the time and the attention that it deserves.  Semper Reformanda! (steps off of soapbox).

Check out this new issue of Partners (a diaconal newsletter from Diaconal Ministries of Canada) which spells out a few of the changes recommended to Synod by the Diakonia Remixed Task Force http://www.diaconalministries.com/resources/documents/PartnersDec2012.pdf

We have read the report and are getting ourselves ready to discuss this at classis in a couple weeks.  I speak for most people in my church and classis when I say that we endorse sending deacons to participate in the work of synod.  That being said, this task force has included a number changes here that are problematic in my mind and I am surprised others are not discussing this further on the Network.  The report itself states that it "requires a major rethinking of how the CRC does ministry" (pg. 34). 

First, at the heart of church order changes is Article 25.c (pg. 21), the description of deacons' responsibilities.  We (my council and I) regret that the phrases "especially to those who belong to the community of believers" and "assure the unity of word and deed" will be removed.  It seems to me that it would harm the witness of the church greatly if my congregation were doing advocacy work for people we hardly knew while memnbers of our own congregation were nto being helped.  In an age when the church is accused of hypocrisy, it seems to be that deacons play an important role in reminding us to demonstrate our faith with some of our time, talents and treasures.  Furthermore, we think the phrase, "calling the members to be ambassadors of reconciliation in all areas of life" brings more confusion than clarity to the diaconate's work and God's kingdom. 

Second, we would not like to see the imperatives to "bring the gospel" and "lead them [people] into fellowship with Christ and his church" be replaced by the phrase "holistic mission" in Articles 73 and 74 (pgs. 26-27).  While the gospel and fellowship with Chirst should be inherent in this phrase, it has also been used to justify questionable activities in the world-wide church today and therefore not helpful as a clear guiding principle.  We would like to see a sentence stating what "holisic mision" is which includes the elements being removed.

Third, and most baffling to me personally, is the change in Article 77 (pg. 29).  Why would we include deacons in the work of synod and then remove synodical oversight and encouragement of our denominatoinal agencies, many which are diaconal in nature?  Am I missing something?  It seems to me that synod ought to have a say about the denominational ministryes what all our churches support.  We did not see how the guiding principles and changes in Articles 73-76 lend support to this move.

I would appreciate input from others.  Thanks!

Community Builder

To address your third point, the Current Supplement Article 77-a states "Synod regulates the work of the world missions committee by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA." This governance statement was generalized by moving it into article 77 and applied it to the regulating duties of Synod with respect to all denominational ministries. REVISED Article 77 - "Synod shall regulate the work of denominational ministries by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA." I don't see how you can interpret this as removal of synodical oversight and encouragement of our denominatoinal agencies. That certainly was not the intent.

Hi Terry.  Will you be at classis ANEin March?  I must not be clear as to what exactly the article 77 change is meant to accomplish or why it is part of deacons being delegates to synod.  I understand that over the years the denominational ministries have become governed more and more by the BOT and less by snodical delibrations.  I think this is the "governance realities of the denomination" referred to in ground #4 under Article 77 (pg. 29) in the report.  So to paraphrase, "this is what is happening already so let's make it official."  Would that be accurate?  If that is the case, then I still wonder why we shouldn't expand the role synod plays in giving direction to our denominational ministries with diaconal representatives there, rather continuing the trend of lessening it.

Community Builder

I wasn't planning to attend the upcoming meeting of CANE; I need to save vacation days for a week at Synod in June.

The following is an explanation of Articles 76 and 77 from Kathy Smith, one of the task force's advisors.

The current Articles 76 and 77 give grounds for the existence of denominational agencies of home missions and diaconal ministries and world missions.  Since the Diakonia Remixed report calls for a missional understanding of and coordinated approach to all denominational ministries, the proposed articles apply to all those denominational ministries together. Rather than describing the ministries separately in Articles 76 and 77, with a supplement that explains that synod regulates their work through the Board of Trustees, the proposed articles describe the ministries as a whole in Article 76 and the statement about regulating them becomes Article 77, instead of being a supplement.  The statement in the proposed Article 77, that "Synod shall regulate the work of denominational ministries by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA" is and has been what the Board of Trustees does, per its Constitution which was approved by Synod. So, nothing is changing in that regard and it is already official.  The only change here is taking a supplement that records a decision of synod and making it into an article in the Church Order.