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The Leadership booklet is available as a free download at It's a great resource used regularly at Calvin Seminary with students and pastors.

Since the CRC is not in ecclesiastical fellowship with the Presbyterian Church of Canada, a direct transfer of membership cannot be sent.  A statement of the person's membership with notable dates, such as baptism and profession of faith, can be given to the person, and if she wishes, she can submit that to her new church.  Any process of becoming a member there would be governed by that church's rules.

While we would not encourage a person to resign their membership in a CRC, the council could acquiesce in a resignation and give thanks that she has found another church home.  

Hi Steve,

No, you are not considered to be an elder any more after your term expires.  In the CRC we have limited tenure of officebearers--that is, they are called and ordained to office and that ordination clings to the office, not the person.  So there is no special role in the CRC for former elders or deacons, although the council may ask them to serve in some ministry as an experienced member of the congregation.  But they are not officebearers and wouldn't function as such in an ordination or communion service.    

Synod addressed this question when the suggestion was made (by an overture) that former elders be delegated to synod, but that's not possible because they are not officebearers, and synod (and classis and councils) are assemblies of officebearers.  

Thankfully, there are many ways to serve in the church when one is no longer serving a term as an officebearer!  


Kathy Smith

Thanks for this helpful article, and for clearing up this misunderstanding!    

You might also want to know that Article 36b was updated by Synod 2010 to read a bit more positively and now says:

b. The council, at least four times per year, shall exercise mutual censure, in which officebearers assess and encourage each other in the performance of their official duties. 

Posted in: Current Issues

I'd like to hear your thoughts on communion at weddings--that's a question that seems to come up more and more.

One more note to this conversation....

Since the Faith Formation Committee's proposal has not yet been acted upon (it will go to Synod 2011), the current Church Order article 59b is in effect.  It says:


b. Confessing members who have reached the age of eighteen and who have made a commitment to the creeds of the Christian Reformed Church and the responsibilities of adult membership in the church shall be accordedthe full rights and privileges of such membership.



Thanks for the article, Paul!  Many good thoughts.  

I would add that Article 17 is also used when a pastor is released from ministry in a particular congregation for reasons that are not due to conflict at all.  When a pastor decides to go back to school for another degree or needs to relocate due to family circumstances, an Article 17 process is used, and hopefully the reasons are made clear in the minutes of classis, to avoid the stigma that you refer to above.  The numbers of these types of "Article 17's"--which are included in the totals per year--are also increasing.   Maybe if these types of cases continue to increase, the stigma will decrease! :)  

At any rate, this also supports your good advice that churches should ask good questions..

Kathy Smith on November 30, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks, Josh.  Another example I know of is that of a clergy couple in which one spouse took a new position, so the other spouse went through an Article 17 release from his congregation.  In fact, I know of more than one of these situations, so that could be a new trend.  And also a good reason! :)

Hi Jeff, and the rest,

One additional reason for the spike in the past decade may be the fact that Synod 1998 added the line to Article 16 about ministers being given a leave of absence to require them to return to service in that congregation.  Churches sometimes were using leaves of absence as a way of accomplishing the release of a minister from service in a congregation, which is what Article 17 does.  

Article 17 itself is not written in negative language--though it is used for difficult situations.  So the stigma arises from the difficult situations and the number of them.   I really think (and hope!) that as the other uses increase, such as Al Mulder describes, the stigma will lessen.  And when there are difficult situations, then Art 17 and its supplements provide a way for a careful process of dealing with them.

Maybe the MIS forms could be stated better.  (You can find them online at


The Minister's Profile Form asks the question this way:


2.                  Has your relationship with a congregation ever been terminated by you, by the governing board or jointly?

_____ Yes                                                _____ No


It seems to me that any congregation that reads an explanation like Jeff's would be quickly satisfied, and if there is an explanation indicating that there had been a conflict, then they have opportunity to ask questions and explore more.  That's for the benefit of all involved.  But I wish the word "terminated" was not used, since that's not in the Church Order.

The Church Profile form says:


b.   Has there ever been an Article 16 or 17 termination in the history of your church?

_____ Yes                               _____ No



Again, I wish the form used the Church Order's language of release, not termination.  I do think it's good that such releases are only for "weighty reasons."  Such releases should not be done lightly, for whatever reason.  And actually, Article 16 is not about a termination at all, but a temporary leave of absence, so that part of the question is not accurate.

On the forms, I'll even volunteer to bring it up to the Ministerial Information Service committee that advises Pastor-Church Relations.  I happen to be on it.  :)








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