Synod’s Organizational Plans

The full title of Report 37 in the CRC 1971 Agenda is as follows: “Committee to update rules governing the synodical committee and to formulate a job description for the office of denominational Stated Clerk.”

Before the 1971 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church met, there were three committees that advised Synod. They were the Synodical Committee composed of three men, the Christian Reformed Synodical Trustees composed of six men, and the Standing Advisory Budget Committee composed of seven men. These committees were composed of sixteen men in all.

It may be well to present some background material giving the reason for the need of the new re-organizational program. It is as follows:

“Synod of 1970 gave a Study Committee the mandate ‘to update the rules governing the Synodical Committee and to formulate a job description for the office of the Denominational Stated Clerk.’

“The Study Committee first reviewed the history. The existence of the Synodical Committee dates back to 1864. It consisted of three ministers and was given responsibilities in matters of correspondence, implementation of Synodical decisions, and advice to Classes. Tn 1902 a Stated Clerk was appointed and his office was made a full lime position in 1956. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century the jobs of the Synodical Committee and the Stated Clerk became increasingly complex. It was during this time that the Synodical Committee, for example, had responsibility for foreign missions, Church Help Fund Matters, inter-church correspondence, chaplains’ certification, war-relief concerns, servicemen’s care and counsel. Gradually each of these functions became the responsibility of a separate committee as the work load became too heavy. The result was separation. We have delegated the work of Synod to many agencies hut we have no agency for unifying and coordinating all the facets of denominational work.’ ‘More recently the Synodical Committee has not met regularly and in some years not at all.’”

This led to the recommendation that Synod constitute a Synodical Interim Committee, consisting of fourteen men to embrace the functions of the present Synodical Committee, the Standing Advisory Budget Committee, and the Synodical Trustees. This Synodical Interim Committee is to designate at least three new subcommittees from within its membership. They are called Church Polity and Program, Finance, and Trustees. They will meet as a group three times a year; in October, February, and May.

The big difference is that there will he fourteen men instead of sixteen men. These fourteen men will represent different sections of the denomination, whereas before representatives were for the most part local. Each of the following regions will be represented as follows: Far West (U.S.) – 2; Western Canada – 1; Rocky Mts. to Mississippi River – 2; Central U.S. – 6; Eastern Canada – 2; and the East Coast – 1.

This Synodical Interim Committee will judge programs and finances. Before this, no one had the authority to ask: “How come we have so many competing for the same program? Who studies that?” There was much overlapping. There were tract writers, evangelism writers, educational committee writers, Home Missions writers, Back to God Hour writers, etc. The Synodical Interim Committee is to save overlapping and money, which some have estimated should save the denomination $150,000 a year.

Some things are not new; as, for example, the chairman of each committee reporting to the Stated Clerk, the Executive Secretaries of Boards reporting to the Stated Clerk, and even the rules for the Stated Clerk. The job description for the office of the Stated Clerk is just bringing his work up to date.

What is new is that the Synodical Interim Committee will now get reports from the Ad Hoc Committees (Study Committees appointed by Synod) and the Boards and Standing Committees, instead of just passing this information on to the Stated Clerk; and the Denominational Financial Coordinator office is new. The latter began with the Synod of 1970. The Denominational Financial Coordinator reports to the Stated Clerk, to the Synodical Committee, and to Synod. He will explain his work, not to the Stated Clerk, but to the Synodical Committee and to Synod. He will be appointed at the next Synod.

Some members of Synod were afraid of having a super-board. Many, however, felt that it is only a matter of good business to have coordination and better organization. It is not the best way to carry on any business, and especially the Lord’s business, without working together. There must be cooperation. We should know what must be first and what last.

I feel the attempt is a good one. In these days of financial stress, we as a denomination must do all we can to make the Lord’s monies go as far as they can and do the most good.

If, as the background material states, the Synodical Committee had not met regularly and in some years not at all, it is high time that this should be remedied. And if there was no discussion between committees on what they were doing, this, too, needs to be changed.

I hope that this organizational arrangement may receive God’s blessing and be His will for our denominational work.

Fredrick L. Netz is pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Lucas, Michigan.

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