Discussion Topic

Who's going to join us for the Synod webcast? www.crcna.org/Synod

If I remember correctly, last year we got up to about 100 simultaneous viewers during various parts of the deliberations. This year, I'm expecting that will go up.

For the first time, you can watch the webcast right...

June 8, 2011 0 3 comments

Does the word "clear" mean that someone is going to present an undeniable truth that is evident to all, or is it a red flag signaling that a position not unanimously held is being propped up by a high-sounding word? Whenever I hear the word "clear" I instinctively, and sometimes unfairly, reach for my 

June 6, 2011 0 2 comments

Unfortunately, denominations have been formed because of debates about the sacraments. As Synod 2011 discusses the sacrament of baptism, both unity and continuing division will be evident.

June 3, 2011 0 2 comments

Synod 2006 adopted a motion “to allow for the admission of all baptized members to the Lord’s Supper on the basis of their full membership in the covenant community” and instructed the Board of Trustees to appoint a task force to, among other things, “bring any appropriate Church Order Articles into conformity 

May 31, 2011 0 8 comments

Against the advice of the majority, synod adopted Declaration F. Nineteen years later Synod 2010 declared it was no longer part of our official position on creation and science. An overture to Synod 2011 contends, “the practical effect of that decision was to allow persons within the CRC to adopt evolutionary

May 26, 2011 0 107 comments

Will the new hymnal cooperatively published by our denomination and the Reformed Church in America (RCA) include the Heidelberg Catechism and the rest of our creeds and confessions? Initially, the answer was “yes.” Now Faith Alive Christian Resources is asking Synod 2011 to say “no.”

May 23, 2011 0 4 comments

This year a number of young people from Sunrise Community CRC in Austin, Texas reviewed a number of matters to be discussed by Synod 2011 and came up with this profound question: “Why is synod spelled with a “Y?”

May 20, 2011 0 18 comments

Our current study of “The Form of Subscription,” a document that all officebearers sign to indicate their agreement with the doctrinal teachings of the denomination, began in 2004 when a classis asked synod to study the effectiveness of the Form. Seven years later “A Covenant for Officebearers” is being presented to Synod 2011.

May 17, 2011 0 12 comments

Overtures sent to any synod focus on study committee reports that synod is receiving or on something that is “hot” in the denomination. And members of the denomination ask each other, “What are the BIG issues that this synod will address? The routine work ...doesn’t draw that kind of attention. 

May 13, 2011 0 0 comments

How does the language in which we communicate the gospel affect people? Do our words give the impression that God is irrelevant to “normal” life? Do our words help or hinder people in their relationship to the church, and more importantly, to God?

May 9, 2011 0 1 comments

This year’s Agenda is first to report on our progress in incorporating ethnic minorities and women on denominational boards. It reports “a decrease of five women and a decrease of four persons of color on the boards over the previous year (p. 26).” No Agenda has ever reported on our progress in attaining our goal of at least one ethnic 

May 5, 2011 0 46 comments
Discussion Topic

Survey here on the Belhar Confession.

Feedback welcome on the qestions.

May 2, 2011 0 9 comments

Who's coming to Synod 2011? What do the numbers say about our efforts to reflect our ethnic and gender diversity in our broadest assembly? What do they say about our members' interest in this assembly? It would be interesting to hear some perspectives on

May 2, 2011 0 8 comments

Recently, our denominational Board of Trustees (BOT) told us, "Rev. Jerry Dykstra informed the CRC Board of Trustees of his desire to resign as Executive Director of the CRCNA for personal and family reasons." However, in an interview with the Grand Rapids Press Rev. Dykstra said "the BOT made the decision

April 27, 2011 0 16 comments

At Synod 1987 a fellow delegate taught me new words for the second stanza of “Onward, Christian Soldiers:"  “Like a mighty turtle moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where we’ve always trod.” I found myself singing that song again when I read some of the overtures to Synod 2011.

April 25, 2011 0 21 comments
Discussion Topic

The Leadership Exchange of the CRCNA is offering a free, one-day workshop for synodical delegates at Calvin College on June 9, 2011. The workshop is open to the first 75 synodical delegates who register and, upon availability, others in the CRCNA. It will be facilitated by the Malphurs...

April 21, 2011 0 0 comments

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

April 18, 2011 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

Besides praying for delegates and advisors, what role can youth play in Synod 2011?  Are there opportunities to serve as non-voting advisors or observers or  to assist with technical (audio/visual) needs?  Presenting opportunities to youth in this area recognizes the multigenerational nature of...

April 12, 2011 0 6 comments

Synod 2011 will be unique in a number of ways. Because of the recent resignation of Rev. Jerry Dykstra, it will be the first in recent memory where our denomination’s executive director is not available to assist the synodical officers. Because of the retirement of Dr. Henry De Moor, it will also be the first in recent memory

April 11, 2011 0 6 comments

Most of our members know that synod meets once a year. Most of them are probably not aware of how much work is done beforehand to ensure that these meetings run well. Preparations for synod begin months before synod actually convenes. Study committee reports must be available to the churches by November 1 of the previous year so churches and classes have time to consider them and to respond

April 11, 2011 0 2 comments

Since synod is the highest ruling assembly, is it the pope of the Christian Reformed denomination? Sometimes it feels that way, but that question misunderstands the nature of the authority and function of our denominational assemblies. The Church Order, a set of regulations by which our denomination is governed, states

April 11, 2011 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

April showers, May flowers, June synods. That might sound strange, but for those of us directly involved in denominational ministries synod marks the beginning of summer. This year 188 elders and pastors from across North America will gather...to worship, fellowship, work, and eat together.

April 11, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

The Church Order is a document that shows how the congregations of the Christian Reformed Church in North America have decided to live together and to organize themselves.

March 14, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

The stated clerk of classis serves as the official correspondent for the classis. The function of the synodical deputy is to represent the interests of synod in the life or actions of the classis. Resources for both of these can be found on this webpage.

March 14, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Archival information including recordings, reports, committees, agendas and documents from past synod gatherings.

March 14, 2011 0 0 comments



We are glad you enjoyed the livestream webcast.  We are happy to provide this to those who cannot be at synod in person.

Jeremy, Canada signed the Kyoto accord, and yet has been less successful in reducing emissions than the USA, which did not sign the accord.  So now Canada has not signed the renewal of the accord;  and hopefully it will be more successful in reducing emissions.   However, Canada's emissions are primarily based on consumption in other parts of the world, particularly in the USA, and so these emissions ought to be attributed to USA consumption.  This applies to both oil and livestock.  But lets not nitpick.  Yes, there is still some more land to be open pit mined, but it is a relatively small portion and small area compared to future bitumen supplies.   Most bitumen is too deep to surface mine. 

Reclamation is the beginning of restoration, which wouldn't happen until the forest is at the previous mature stage.  But the landscape won't be exactly as it was before, although the intent is to replicate to some degree the similar uneven terrain.   In some ways, you might even call it a giant oil spill cleanup, since the soil will have less oil in it than it did before the mining.   There are some small portions already reclaimed with vegetation growing.   New technology which removes the need for tailings ponds is also being developed.  Things are never static. 

So a church may divest of oil stocks.  What are they doing investing in business opportunities anyway?   Why don't they invest in missions instead, which is what the money was probably intended for.   But if we shouldn't invest in fossil fuel industries, then why should we invest in churches which usually burn these fossil fuels in their inefficient furnaces, and paint with fossil fuel paints, and use fossil fuel created carpeting and chairs, and transport their sunday school kids in fossil fuel powered buses and vans, and inevitably have their pastor driving a fossil fuel powered contraption in order to make visits to members and new attenders, as well as driving or flying to classis and synod and mission fields in Honduras?  Just asking. 

John -- I thought there was still a significant portion that is still going to be surface mined? (1/3?  Maybe I'm wrong.)  In my opinion it's more than a little drastic even if it is going to be reclaimed (which is different than restored) within 80 years.  I don't find that the Alberta government or the federal government has taken the issue of ghg emssions seriously like some European countries have for example.  And, that doesn't seem like it is going to change unless we speak up by voting differently and by participating in campaigns such as 350.org's divestment campaign.

Jeremy, strip mining does seem a bit drastic, but it will be reclaimed... and still be more productive than some natural canadian shield rock scapes.   I was even wondering whether we could grow crops on some of the reclaimed areas... just wondering.    yes, the north american fleet is relatively inefficient, but that's probably because we like bigger cars to carry stuff, and we have sleepers on most long haul trucks, and we don't use buses like they do in Europe cities.  Double deckers everywhere in Dublin and London, for example.  More buses than cars almost, it seems.  But most homes are brick row housing there also, packed like sardines into streets, without yards, or with postage sized front yards, mostly.  Some larger homes, with tall stone fences around them... and garages large enough to accomodate two bicycles, side by side... 

Most of the open pit oilsands is already in operation now.  From now on it will be insitu bitument, with still a large footprint because of all the injection wells and extraction wells, but without surface mining, and so a much smaller footprint.  New technology being discovered all the time, including alternatives to steam injection.  Yes, it will be nice to have more alternatives to fossil fuels, but it will still take fossil fuels to create many of those alternatives.   In the meantime, we ought to make the transport of these fuels as energy efficient as possible, thus reducing ghg.   

A prominent evangelical supports divestment from fossil fuels:

Fossil fuels are a faith issue -- by Richard Cizik


Hi John -- I agree that getting oil from Canada is a far better choice than the Middle East but I don't think we should be industrially strip mining the Alberta landscape to get the oil to supply one of the most inefficient vehicle fleets in the world.  In situ production of the oil sands (or bitumous sands :)) is much easier to accept.


~ "There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places."    Wendell Berry

Jeremy, yes, there are also political and social opportunities, and I agree that it does not make much sense to send so much cash to a politically volatile region, which often uses the money against us, compared to utilizing resources which are closer at hand, including piping oil from a relatively friendly Canada. 

Having just returned from a ghg conference in Animal Agric in Ireland, I would say there are many opportunities.  Delegates from Japan and Brazil, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Australia, NZ, Canada and the USA and many other countries, presented research, over 400 presentations.  Some of this research showed what would not work, and some showed some promising reductions of methane with certain practices or feed additives.  Interesting is that increased efficiency usually means reduction of methane and CO2 and N2O.   What that means is that it should be possible to produce more food with less resources, which helps to solve the global food demand issue (9 billion people by 2050 anticipated).  

On the adaptation side, the recent flooding in Southern Alberta also highlighted the likely costs of not anticipating greater weather fluctuations in the future.  But the opportunity might be that setting up better irrigation infrastructure (water storage) might also reduce catastrophic flooding events.  Anyway, thinking about opportunities, will make the costs of adaption become investments, rather than merely costs. 

What  needs revisiting is  for the CRC  to advise churches in a new context of  BEING AT ODDS WITH THE LAW OF THE LAND.   Within CRC curches, especially among youth, is consensus on this issue anywhere near it was even 5 years ago - let alone 40 years ago? Major demographic shift since then, folks, -- a brand new pinball game! The bottom line is we are now an older denomination; battle-wearry and tired of conflict.  Do we have sufficient stamina to reprimand  (or heaven-forbid  sustain a court battle against)  CRC pastors , who represent faith communities that  are comfortable marying monogomous gays?   Or, to avoid such a scenario from happening,  will we allow space for a patchwork of practices where each church decides for themselves---- like we do with other contovercial issues in the CRC? 

Blessing - to see the CRCNA at work and worship

Connecting - I felt reconnected to the denomination I'm part of

Big Picture - seeing how my church fits in the whole

Future - both the challenges and the hopes

Multigenerational - young to old

Multiethnic - many races represented

I had the opportunity of a slow week and got to watch Synod online. It was a moving and educational experience seeing the larger CRCNA at work.  It was filled with highs and lows, joys and frustrations as matters were discussed and accepted or rejected. The worship each morning lifted my heart to God and I was blessed by the stirring voices of the delegates, the liturgies and the convicting messages. It was the best way to spend a week and one I'm grateful I had the opportunity to do. Thankyou for livestreaming and archiving the open sessions. It was a real blessing.

John -- There are opportunities, a big one one being reducing the billions of dollars we as North Americans send to the volatile Middle East by importing so much oil....

(Here's a fun little comic I came across)

My version is things are not looking good for reforming the office of deacon.  First clue is: Synod chose to deal with a report from its advisory committee, one appointed in the last days before synod convenes and meets a couple times for  a few hours as opposed to a committee that met over a period of several years for several times and actully produced a well studied along with reformational recommendations.  I was not at synod, but what were they thinking?  Yes I know the process was not stopped by doing this but why slow it down?


No one, at least not me, is making light of it.   But there are indications it has already happened.   Growing seasons, frost-free period has already changed/increased in the last 100 years in western Canada.  However, only concentrating on the negatives means we are not looking at opportunities.   Besides which, our solutions will be found in the opportunities, and not by wallowing in the challenges/negatives. 

I have a hard time looking for the positives when I have seen farmers in Uganda not knowing when to plant because their growing seasons have shifted radically. The global south is suffering because of weather change or climate change or whatever you want to call it, and I don't think we can make light of that.

As human beings, we are often prone to looking at the problems rather than the opportunities.   I wonder whether it is at least as valid for us in north america to look at potential opportunties that climate change might offer us, as well as the increased risks and costs of climate change.    For example, we presently have three to eight months of winter in most of north america.   Siberia also has long winters, which are costly in terms of heating needs , short growing season for crops, frost damage to roads and equipment, need for additional clothes and housing, etc.   Longer summers in some of those areas will allow more crop production to take place, and will reduce heating costs.  Other opportunities might be to increase housing in temperate climates, and to reduce winter vacation  travel to warmer climates further south. 

We are often inundated with the potential problems and hazards of climate change;   but can you think of potential opportunities that climate change might offer us? 

With reference to the proposal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to divest itself from stocks in oil, coal etc., I remind you of a book I wrote on the subject of divestment entitled Caught in the Middle. It is out of print, but anyone interested can order a digital copy from me at  <  boerjf@hotmail.com  > .

Is profiting from pollution ethical?


Local church pushes fossil fuels divestment

Prodded by environmentally conscious church members in Southwest Portland, the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has endorsed divesting church-held stocks in oil, coal and other fossil fuels corporations.

Church representatives met in Eugene last Saturday and voted 102 to 94 on a resolution urging the 4 million-member church to stop buying fossil fuels stocks and sell current holdings within five years, according to Michael Hall. He’s the leader of The Environmental Stewardship Committee of St. Luke Lutheran Church, located near Gabriel Park.

“It was Bill McKibben’s idea,” Hall says of the initiative. “A bunch of our folks went to his presentation in Portland.”

McKibben, who frequently lectures in Portland and elsewhere, is an author, environmental activist and Middlebury College professor who co-founded 350.org, a global leader in the fight against climate change. The group’s name refers to 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a level that scientists have calculated is a safe level. By one measure, the globe recently hit 400 parts per million.

There are about 115 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations in Oregon, and each sends representatives to the Oregon Synod gathering, Hall says.

The national church holds stock investments for its synod endowment, employee pension plan and seminary investments, he says.

St. Luke members hope the Oregon-passed resolution will now be considered at the annual assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to be held in August in Pittsburgh.

“Even if we don’t make it to the floor in that meeting, word of this is going to resonate in our church,” Hall says.



I want to say thank you to the study committee for all the work that you have done.  Besides bringing forward a winsome and well grounded report, the committee was also transparent in their process and sought the input of people across the denomination as they put together their report.  

My druthers, I guess,  would have been to have the report itself discussed on the floor of synod.  In the past on this issue there have been reversals from year to year, with one Synod leaning in one direction and the next in the opposite.  My only concern is that this again might take place in the next few years.  I hope that won't be the case.  I think that caution has had it's day when it comes to this topic, and that it's time to move forward.

"Concern of innovation" would have been the main reason for creating a new study committee.  But I didn't think that the Diakonia Remixed report stood substantially apart from our (1972?) report on the nature of the offices, but was rather a faithful application of it.   Thanks for your work. 

I would agree.  Now the task remains of delineating the tasks of the offices.  I think that John Calvin will help a lot there.  In one of his commentaries he breaks up the calling of the elder and deacon along the lines of the Great Commandment, with elders being responsible for pietas, love of God, and deacons being responsible for caritas, love of neighbor.  This may be a good organizing principle for the work before us.

I have to say that after spending a good part of the week listening in on synod via the webcast, discussing it over twitter, and meeting up with some of the younger delegates at a few post-Synodical brews, that I can see the value of this yearly gathering. 

While there are still things I think could be done more efficiently to save some time and money, I think that it is still time and money well spent. I do hope that down the road the number of delegates is increased and diversified so that more people can come to be a part of the gathering and enage in all of the fellowship, debate, and worship that comes along with it. 

I know I was blessed by being a part of the conversation, even if it was only over twitter. 



posted in: The Why in Synod

If the following agencies are part of the agenda of Synod:

Disability Concerns, Office of Social Justice, Centre for Public Dialogue (Canada), Race Relations, Safe Church, ServiceLink, World Renew/CRWRC 

they would also seem to be core to the diaconal mandate and ministry.

As I remember it, the Belhar was accepted as an EFD as a compromise.  If the choice was only as a confession, it would have been rejected.   People had serious objections to having it under the form of subscription, because they disagreed with certain statements within it, or they felt it was not of the category of a basic confession of faith.   If we discuss this further, and disregard why it was adopted as an EFD and not as a confession, there will be a feeling of betrayal and deceit.   Instead of trying to discuss its significance, or trying to recategorize it, it would be more beneficial to use it as a guide whenever appropriate, even pointing out where it might be a bit unbalanced or not entirely strictly scripturally accurate, but still has some good points to make.   We should not let this become another divisive issue simply because of the insistence of some that it needs to be placed on a higher pedestal. 

As one who was on the advisory committee that presented the Ecumenical Faith Declaration document, I can assure you that our passion-filled discussions on the Belhar and our designing the EFD category desired to communicate a love-filled olive branch to our South African brothers and sisters in Christ- communicating gratitude and thanks for the faith and substance of this document that shaped and refreshed a much-needed soul-searching for the CRCNA.   The "olive-branch" was a recognition that, though this document is weighty for faith and life, we could not acquiecse to the request that came with it, namely to categorize it as one of our confessions.   We did bring to the floor of Synod a request, however, to wrestle with its confessional possibilities at a future Synod, once we clarified a consensus on what constitutes a confession in our faith and life as the CRCNA.  That request was defeated.  So, did we (the advisory committee with our recommendation for an EFD) leave Synod 2012 sorely confused?  Hopefully not.  Hopefully, Synod was positioned in a right direction to further engage the Belhar and other faith documents that come to us from The Church around the world.  From the sounds of this year's Synod, it appears Synod is taking up that mantle to further pursue the significance of EFD's in the faith-life of the church.

Pension calculations are very complex. However simplistically a Pension Fund gets obligations when the employer starts one. The CRCNA Canada has a Pension Fund.  It knows the age of the contributors and the benefits of the plan. It also knows the age and number of folks drawing a pension and the projected dates of death for all them. This data is based on tables designed for that purpose. Those tables are updated every year because we are living longer. Based on that the actuaries come up with an amount of  money the Pension Fund needs to meet all its pension obligations.  They then test the funds we have in the bank and the earnings and income they get from investments and premiums from current members and potential contributions from the employer. They compare that number to the obligations of the Pension Fund and if the sponor is short, the sponsor has to make a plan to make up the shortfall (in Canada ) within 5 years. That happened two, three years ago in the CRCNA Canada Pension Fund and the benefits were reduced and the charge to churches was increased.

When a couple work for the CRCNA and are both employed in the same church (which I personally would not recommend) they are to be treated as two employees full stop. No deals.

Bill Wald,  the annual cost for a new church plant is two hundred thousand $200,000 per year. (Rent 2 salaries, heat light material etc).

The CRCNA has started 112 new congragations in 15 years. That's about 10 per year.  If you go to GR HO and give them the addressess of all these new churches and then ask for a breakdown of their payment of ministry shares you will get a good picture of how sustainable they are.

$20,000/year for how many years? How long does it take for a new chuch to break even? How long to pay back the initial investment? Apparently "church planting" has been a losing proposition for decades. Maybe God does not want the CRC to plant new churches in the US or Canada.  

Don't most new church members come by stealing warm bodies from existing congregations? What did St Paul (?) say about people running after new things? Does this not describe many church plantings?

It takes 2 full time employees to plant a church? A person goes to a new city, rents a house with a large recreation room, and starts planting. Then what?

Adjusted for inflation and exchange rate, what might have it cost St Paul to plant a new church? 

Is there a difference between church planting and making disciples? What is the percentage of disciples in most CRC congregations?  Say an undercover church planter should go to an existing CRC congregation in a new to him in a city a thousand mile away, find a side job, and join an existing congregation? Might he not be more successful at making new disciples FOR CHRIST? Say he went to the church council and suggested that he start a mid week week meeting in his house for some group in the congregation that seems to need some special attention? I don't think anyone would ask, "Are you a spy for Home Missions?" 


It appears that Synod won't be considering the Diakonia Remixed report until Thursday at the earliest. You may want to monitor http://www.crcna.org/synod/synod-documents to see what items Synod has remaining on its agenda. This will be one of the last items on the agenda to be considered.

The Diakonia Remixed report likely won't be considered by Synod until Thursday at the earliest. Watch http://www.crcna.org/synod/synod-documents to monitor what has been processed by Synod. It appears that this will be one of the last items on the agenda to be considered.

George Whitfield was right of course, on the necessity of being born again in order to bring the gospel.   Although I remember reading a story written by George Macdonald, about a preacher who became born again after he had been a preacher for several years, and yet God somehow used his messages to bring a parishioner to Christ.  Still, the message grew in power much more after the preacher became a Christian, and although this was just a story, I believe it to be true. 

Yes, surrendering at the cross is the first step, as you say.  Too often people only surrender theoretically, saying they are sinners but unwilling to relinquish their sin, or even to name it.   Sometimes they are like sinners without any sins.  But the cross is not the last step;  that's why Jesus sent His Spirit to be with us.   After the cross, at which the disciples fled, they waited for Christ to return in His Spirit on Pentecost, and then it was that they could preach and witness and be bold and persevere and heal and suffer in joy.  

But we also know soon after, about Annanias and Sapphira... had they denied the cross?  had they denied the spirit?   Were they simply innocently mistaken, that lying to the church in order to be accepted was okay?   Today we have many Christians wanting to know how and how much money to give to the church, how to respect their husbands and love their wives, how to raise their children, how to teach sunday school and dayschool, how to manage sexual relations, how to dress, and how to speak as Christ followers.   The desire to follow Christ is who Christians are, but sometimes we do things we don't want to do, as Paul the apostle said.   And as a Christian community, we can help each other by using scripture and christian love, (and rebuke and discipline, as forms for baptism, prof of faith,  ordinations, and scriptures say)  to find better ways to serve and follow Christ.  That is what His Spirit does through and in us. 

John:   Thank you for your comments.   I agree: 'Crucified-Risen-Spirit Sent' is the right progression.   However, as you state: "in my own experience I see people struggling with morality, reverence, patience, immoral behavior", and you add: they also struggle with how to follow Christ.

In other words there is a sin issue that needs to be dealt with, for it  is impossible for one to move toward the maturity spoken of in Hebrews 5 without first dealing with the issue of sin.  And, sin can only be dealt with at the cross. Period.

To help keep the 'main thing the main thing' it may be instructive  to go back to the mid 1700's.  George Whitefield was perhaps the greatest Calvinist Evangelist the world has ever known.  One of his primary concerns was with the general practice of allowing unconverted men to enter the ministry.  The prevailing attitude at the time seemed to be:  A converted minister is best but an unconverted one cannot fail to do some good.  "In order to preach Christ aright'  George preached consistently on the absolute necessity of the need to be born again.   He said:  "The reason why congregations have been so dead is due to the fact that they have dead men preaching to them.  How can dead men beget living children?" he asked.

On one occasion, one old minister who was deeply convicted during a message by George confessed through much weeping:   " I have been a scholar, and have preached the doctrines of grace a long time, but I believe I have never felt the power of them in my soul."

Surrendering at the cross is the first step in the new or renewed life of a Christian, but how many folks simply bypass it?  The ' main thing ' can then be reduced to  the tail end thing... or anything!   Instead they proceed to struggle on to 'maturity' (more Bible studies, more church services, more prayer, more struggles to overcome the flesh) and wonder why lasting  joy, power, victory  and  fulfillment remain lacking in their 'growth process'.


Reading it more closely, I'm glad that they are bringing forward the proposed CO changes; my hope is that no reversals along this process will take place between now and 2015-2016.

If the report from the advisory committee on the Synod page is any indication, I am afraid that we will be seeing a repeat tonight.  We'll have to wait and see.


Study the attached table . Our average churches are getting smaller. If we continue on the path of planting new churches at a cost of about $200,000 per year each, most of those will be needy in terms of funding. Including pensions.Average decline in membership  is 21% between 1997 and 2012. 

Congregational Data




%  Increase











Professing Under 18





Professing Over 18





Total Professing








Non Professing








Total Members






Edward, David Brainerd's statement may have been his experience, but maybe it was the way he preached about Jesus crucified.   We must always start with Jesus crucified, but also Jesus risen, and also spirit sent.   In my own experience, I see people struggling with morality, reverence, patience, immoral behaviour, and how to follow Christ.  And they are constantly looking for advice and teaching on it.   I cannot forget either the statement in the book of Jude, which says "... they turned the grace of God into a license for immorality...".    Paul talks in one of his epistles about going beyond the milk of the gospel (I Cor.3), and in Hebrews 5:11-14 " In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." 

Why did God establish the minyan as ten adult jewish men and the Tabernacle tax as 10% of gross  annual increase? Maybe because the revenue from ten tithing men should enable one rabbi to live as well as they do (after the Destruction)? 

Why should a local congregation of 10 families have a lower per capita income than 100 families? Maybe the problem is that we all prefer to spend more money on our pleasure than we do on other people. After all, God owns the cattle on a trillion hills. Most (more than 50%?) of the local church budget goes to make most of ourselves more comfortable two or three times a week.

 What is an “Ecumenical Faith Declaration”?  A peaceful and harmless solution to a complicated problem. A title on a file folder. Maybe a good place to put the Ephocripha, the Didache, and other historical documents. 

Your analogy is amusing and useful, but what if your friend was asked to be married to this guy instead of just a date, and she replied, "No, but we can be friends."  I was a delegate to Synod both in 2009 and in 2012, and while still only an analogy mine is closer than yours in my opinion.  Synod of 2012 isn't wondering what to think, we decided the Belhar is not up to recognized standards of a "Confession" even though they put it in the name even though it can and should inform our faith and ecumenical life as a church.  We certainly accepted the offer of a relationship, but not necessarily the one that was offered.  To stretch your analogy, your friend didn't need to date the guy if she didn't want to but she certainly shouldn't marry him.

Yes, we have been down this road before. However, I have a gut instinct that this time around will be differnt. That presentation/discussion is less than 24 hours away, but something tells me that Synod 2013 will be the turning point. I believe that nearly half the classes already have deacons attending their meetings, a big change from 1981 and previous.

Hi Kory:

Thanks for the comments and for your excitement at what you are experiencing at Synod.  I and many others are praying for you and all the delegates and participants.  Grace and Peace, Ben B.

Harry Truman would often say:   The only thing new under the sun is the history you don't know.  He would then dig into the past to find a parallel to some problem he was facing at that time, with one country or the other.  To keep the main thing the  main thing in the churches today,  here is what David Brainerd found:  "I never got away from Jesus and Him crucified.   And I found that when my people were gripped by this great evangelical doctrine of Christ and Him crucified, I had no need to give them instructions about morality.  I found that one followed as the sure and inevitable fruit of the other".

For information on supposed "out of place" fossils, you can check out :     


This will give you an understanding of these fossils from an alternative perspective. 

posted in: Genesis - Again!

We all are aware that this study committee's mandate won't be to change or re-hash the 1973 document or the Pastoral Care document. But this topic needs to be discussed on an ongoing basis. I am Canadian. Gay marriage is legal here.

Our denomination is made up of three groups of people: (1) those who affirm homosexuality and gay marriage, (2) those who want to ensure LGBT people who are welcomed in our churches without necessarily affirming their relationships, and (3) those who believe that LGBT need to be healed of their attractions (i.e., "ex-gay ministries).

These three groups of people DO need to co-exist and need to be able to have civil dialogue. I hope this study committee can tackle this. I am  a delegate at Synod and I have already made it clear that I want to serve on this committee.


Fair disclosure: I am a 44-year-old single, celibate, chaste, yet openly gay man. With God's grace I intend to remain single, chaste, and celibate my whole life.

With respect to the financial burden of smaller churches - there is an inequity build into the method of assessment that needs to be addressed. Workplace pension plans generally operate on the basis of the employer and employee both being assessed 50% of the cost. In the case of the CRCNA Ministers Plan, the local church which is the employer is expected to pay 100% and the pastor or employee pays 0%. 

When many parishioners do not receive a workplace pension, the inequity becomes even more burdensome. 

It probably irrelevant what other denominations are doing. The question is what does civil law have to say on the matter both in the United States and Canada. 

Though the CRCNA sets the assessment on the basis of the cost of one FTE pastor, that does not preclude enrollment and payment on a pro-rata basis to two parties.

Regardless of the fact that they are working under one job description, they are two separate legal entities entitled to EH&D, LTD, pensions, etc.



Thanks, Bonnie, for your encouragement. I've been thrilled already to see what feels like a tremendous spirit of unity and have been amazed by the prayers being offered on our behalf through social networking sites like Twitter.

I would add that it is also a considerable burden for non-traditional ministries (church plants, campus ministries, etc.). The Pension plan constitutes a sizeable part of the budget of any smaller ministry.

Hi Kory, I appreciate your blog. I attended my first synod (two years ago, not having grown up in the CRC). I was truly amazed at the respectful dialog that took place, amid the passion people felt on all sides of an issue,and  frustration and disagreement about the issue's relevance. I was encouraged. My second synod (last year) was a very draining and discouraging experience for me, closer to the politics and agendas; it almost lead me to despair for this denomination. Yet here I am this year at Synod, wondering what will happen now, knowing that the Lord is here with us as we struggle in our human frailty to honor him. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will fall down on open hearts; that we will be able to recieve all that the Lord has for us here, at Synod 2013. May he use this gathering to build his kingdom, and may He have mercy on the church that bears his name. God bless synod 2013.

Meg, thank you for having the courage to ask these questions. My main comment on this thread is that it generally assumes that only heterosexual people have a place at the table (and on the blog). I would like to hear the opinions of gay Christians in the CRC, and of their families, but the climate does not make it easy for them to speak or be heard. I pray that will change, as we learn to love and respect each other in the Spirit of Christ.

Whatever happens with overtures and study committees, Jesus' call to love our neighbors is for all of us (same-sex-attracted and opposite-sex-attracted) every day.