The Council of Delegates (COD), in a series of decisions in October 2020, approved the creation of the Structure and Leadership Task Force (SALT). Learn more about the mandate and work of this task force through the SALT report, which is explained in this series.
The SALT report highlights the concept of partnership as a relationship among equals. How does the report account for the need to achieve equity, parity, and organizational justice in the CRCNA?
The Christian Reformed Church in North America is made up of eight ministry organizations and educational institutions, all of which were once created by an act of synod. In the SALT report, they are seen as partners in the CRCNA organizational system.
While the terms equality and equity may sound familiar, the implementation of one versus the other can lead to dramatically different outcomes for ministry partners. Equality would mean that each ministry partner is given the same resources and opportunities. Equity, on the other hand, recognizes that each ministry partner has different circumstances (contexts) and variable resources and opportunities are needed to reach equal outcomes.
Currently, the CRC churches in Canada and the US are required to contribute their fair share to the overall CRCNA denominational budget. The formula used to arrive at this fair contribution has remained largely unchanged for decades. The SALT report recognizes that the formula used in the past will not be effective going forward. While Canada and U.S. ministry organizations and their Boards are equals as partners, they differ in size, internal economy and in the scope and scale of their ministry operations.
The SALT report recommends the enhanced and renewed Joint Ministry Agreement as the way to ensure that ministry partners receive the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach equal outcomes. Ministry contextualization needs in Canada for example, will require additional resources and the ability of the Canada Board to leverage the CRCNA’s considerable collective ministry strength to properly set and achieve ministry goals in Canada. The Joint Ministry Management Committee was established over the past year in order to ensure equity, whereby each of the partners receives resources according to their actual ministry needs.
Organizational justice is achieved whenever resources are distributed in a manner that is perceived as fair and just by all parties; and the process of resource allocation (budget process) decision-making is also seen as procedurally just. The SALT report recommends the establishment of the Office of Governance which will support Board and executive leaders in the design of denominational resource decision-making procedures and processes.
The SALT team seldom uses the term parity in its deliberations opting instead for the terms ministry equality and ministry equity. Parity is most often used in the context of competing groups. Equal pay for equal work, for example, underlies the notion of pay equity or parity in the workplace. However, equality and equity among employees ultimately involves more than the presence of pay equity in the workforce. Additional steps must often be taken at an organizational level to ensure all employees have the same opportunities for advancement in the workplace.
SALT believes that ministry partners are not competitors who seek parity for themselves, but rather collaborators who are committed to working together as partners to advance the mission and ministry of the Christian Reformed Church throughout the world.
Rev. Frederic Koning is a retired CRC Pastor and Medical Ethicist. He served as the Reporter for the Structure and Leadership Task Force (SALT), and co-facilitator of the SALT Steering Committee and the Joint Ministry Agreement Task Force.
Dr. Lloyd Vanderkwaak is a retired CEO and has conducted research on the governance partnership in nonprofit organizations. He served as a co-facilitator of the SALT Steering Committee and the Joint Ministry Agreement Task Force.