Celebrating Congregationalism Together
August 3, 2015
0 comments 188 views Posted by Derek Atkins
Today's post comes from Dr. Syd Hielema, team leader of Faith Formation Ministries.
The email arrived from a CRC on the U.S. west coast just before dinner time here in Ontario. “I have some questions about faith formation. Please give me a call here at the church.” Ah, the sweet joys of serving a denomination that lives in five time zones. I gave her a call.
“We’d like to make use of one of Faith Formation Ministries’ resources,” she said. “Does that mean you will require us to use a particular curriculum in our children’s ministry?”
“No,” I replied, “that would undermine one of our core values. At FFM, we believe that we are called to honor the unique character of every congregation, and provide tools that will bless them as they discern and carry out their own specific calling.”
“Oh good,” she sighed with relief. “That’s the answer I was hoping for. Let’s talk about the ways your tool might be fruitful for us.”
And we did.
After the call ended and I continued preparing dinner, I quietly gave thanks that she and I were able to celebrate congregationalism together.
Isn’t that a delicious oxymoron? I love it.
About two decades ago, synodical decisions concerning women in office accelerated the growing congregationalism within the CRCNA. This trend tended to evoke two kinds of reactions. Some lamented what appeared to be the weakening bonds of our denominational covenant. Others were more matter of fact: “It is what it is, that’s the age we live in; we can’t fight it, just accept it as our new normal.”
We at Faith Formation Ministries would like to propose a third alternative: that we intentionally commit to learn to celebrate congregationalism together.
I have the privilege of experiencing the CRCNA in all five time zones (in case you’re wondering, the fifth is Atlantic time on the Canadian east coast). In my travels I’m struck by two things: each congregation and region is unique, but there is also an intangible quality that binds us together. I’m amazed that everywhere in the CRC I quickly sense, “this is home, I am with family.” Almost all first-time delegates to synod experience the same reality.
That’s why at Faith Formation Ministries we ‘re eager to experiment our way into celebrating congregationalism together, even when it interrupts dinner plans.
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