By Dee Recker and Staci DeVries
In a historical first, the annual synod of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) will be doing some business together when they meet simultaneously in June on the campus of Central College in Pella, Iowa. Although the CRC and RCA synods worshiped together on a couple of previous occasions, this is the first time they will have joined forces to transact official business. To celebrate an increased level of collaboration between the ministries and support services of our denominations, several joint sessions are planned.
What exactly will look different about the CRC synod this year?
For starters, synod will kick-off on Thursday, June 12, with a joint opening worship service with the RCA at Third Reformed Church. Setting the tone for a spirit of unity, delegates will also come together for joint worship sessions Friday and Saturday mornings. The worship sessions, coordinated by a joint worship team, will include messages from both RCA and CRC pastors.
The first joint plenary session will take place on Friday morning, June 13, in the Kuyper Fieldhouse, following the joint worship—delegates will receive an overview about sharing “common space” and have opportunity to get to know their “tablemates.”
Delegate will meet again in plenary on Saturday evening. This working session will begin with an introduction of the ecumenical partners of both the CRC and RCA present, as well as an introduction of other ecumenical guests of the denominations.
Synod 2013 requested that the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee appoint an ad hoc committee to “draft a statement of agreement about the collaborative relationship between the CRC and the RCA for approval by Synod 2014” (Acts of Synod 2013, p. 573).
Delegates will be led through a time of reflection around the tables on the past, the present, and the future of our relationship together and conclude the session with a vote to adopt the proposed “Resolution on the Relationship between the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Past, Present, and Future.” You will find the proposed resolution and its introduction in the Agenda for Synod 2014 (pp. 263-67), available at www.crcna.org/SynodResources.
The session will end with a special litany written for the occasion. The evening session will conclude with an ice cream social!
New for the CRC this year is an opportunity for delegates to sign up for one of 20 workshops that will be offered on Sunday afternoon by leaders of the two denominations—including Immigration Reform, Sticky Faith, Social Media: The New Church Greeter, and so much more!
The workshops are optional and are offered to both CRC and RCA delegates and provide the chance to learn more about a wide variety of ministries, challenges, and opportunities facing the church today.
On Sunday evening, delegates will join members from area CRC and RCA churches for a 5 p.m. community-wide Synodical Service of Praise at the Vermeer Pavilion. Rev. Dr. Peter Borgdorff will give the message. This special service will be followed by a picnic supper for all in attendance.
Monday morning will conclude the joint sessions with the RCA delegates by hearing from some of the current collaborative efforts. Delegates will hear about a union church—Angel Community in Muskegon, Michigan; a KEZ (Kingdom Enterprise Zone) in Phoenix, Arizona; our disability ministry partnership; the collaborative work of Words of Hope and Back to God Ministries International; and, finally, the recent partnership for disaster response through World Renew.
All of these partnerships and ventures have also been the subject of a months-long tour of RCA and CRC leaders, called the Reformed Collaborative—information will be shared with the synods about the common commitment to be a Reformed witness. (Read “The Reformed Collaborative: Working Together to Expand the Reformed Witness” in the Agenda for Synod 2014, pp. 278-86.)
It is the hope of CRC and RCA leadership that the delegates to the synods leave the assemblies with appreciation and enthusiasm about all that can be accomplished by working together!
If you have any questions leading up to synod, please feel free to write to [email protected].