This past summer, I attended the Christian Reformed Church Synod for the first time as
President of Calvin Theological Seminary. I had previously served as a delegate in 1990,
2002, 2006 and 2010, but for this Synod I was in a new role. Because of that role, I have
been asked by a number of people about my impressions of this past Synod and this is
my usual “overview” question and answer: “What would you have thought if you heard
that the advisory committees of Synod on the Belhar Confession, Creation Stewardship
Report, Revision of the Form of Subscription and the Report of the Task Force Reviewing
Structure and Culture came to the floor of Synod without majority and minority reports?
In other words, the sub-committees of nearly twenty persons worked through their
differences to provide a unified voice for the beginning of Synod deliberation.”
Most people did not anticipate such a “bridging” of differences; they expected that the
advisory committees would divide and provide majority and minority reports on each
and every issue identified. Differences still exist, but they did not lead to division or
The Christian Reformed Church has sometimes been pictured as a plane where there is
acknowledgement of a “right wing” and a “left wing.” Presenters of this picture have
many times expressed an appreciation of the need for both “wings” in the Christian
In alignment with that picture, I would say that Synod 2012 was about “increasing cabin
pressure”. I do not think it is wise or appropriate to say that either the right-wing or
the left-wing “won” on any one issue; however, I do think the church “won”. When an
airplane loses cabin pressure, the emergency oxygen masks deploy and the plane moves
to a lower level of altitude.
I know that others have different views of the work of Synod 2012 and even how Synod
did the work of the church (or not) on any particular issue. I also know that there were
individual moments which were painful for some people, but I desire to lift our eyes from
an individual tree to a consideration of the forest.
I would invite us to see an overall picture that was formed by snapshots of people who
had differences, but were willing to enter into a journey of listening, discovering and
even reframing the issues in unity. I suggest that we all acknowledge and give thanks for
how God was at work at Synod 2012 and appreciate “increased cabin pressure” which the
church will need in the years ahead.
-President Jul Medenblik