If I’ve learned anything about synods from my experience this week, it’s that they’re unpredictable. On Thursday rumors were circulating that the body would complete its work ahead of schedule. On Friday morning, a very different picture was presented: synod entered executive session right away to deal with a number of personal appeals, where they continued until mid-afternoon. With doleful resignation, delegates began to talk about pushing their deliberations into Saturday. At 3:30, however, the tide changed again. Executive session ended, and the remaining items came before synod in quick succession.
One important item that still needed to be addressed was the appeal from Living Water URC challenging Synod 2010’s statement that the new Psalter Hymnal “will be purchased and used by all URCNA churches.” After some discussion, the chairman eventually ruled that this appeal was out of order, as it should have been submitted as an overture instead. Unfortunately, there will not be any closure on Living Water’s concerns until at least next synod. However, I sensed no significant opposition to the content of the appeal—which may be a promising sign indeed.
After dinner, the delegates returned to the auditorium to conclude their business, as well as to enjoy some comic relief. The chairman, Rev. Ron Scheuers, presented a tongue-in-cheek list of ten of the most important things he had learned during the week, and awarded the first prize for “jack-in-the-box” (the delegate who popped up to join the debates most frequently) to Rev. Ralph Pontier. More gravely, Rev. Scheuers then led the assembly in closing devotions based on John 10. He reminded the delegates that all of us are helpless sheep, yet God cares for us. The church can survive only because Christ is its Head, not because we are its members. I believe our chairman was not the only one to choke up during these devotions.
A motion was made to adjourn the eighth synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America. Unsurprisingly, it was supported and passed unanimously. As a deeply moving conclusion, the delegates sang Psalter Hymnal 38 (“The Lord’s my shepherd”) and the Doxology.
Here is a video of Tuesday night’s closing song, “Sun of My Soul.” I have the recordings from the entire week of synod, so I hope to post more videos over the next few weeks.
During last night’s dinner I turned to Rev. Rich Kuiken, who was sitting next to me, and asked a question that had been on my mind all week. “Is it just me, or has there been something extraordinary about this year’s synod?” Rev. Kuiken responded, “Yes, absolutely—without a doubt. This has been an extraordinary synod, and only because of the work of the Holy Spirit.” How else can we explain this synod’s pervasive sense of brotherly love, of humility, of unity? How else can we explain the abundant joy among the delegates?
In my introduction to synod, I urged readers to “pray, pray, pray! for the eighth synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America.” How many people I met this week who have faithfully done just that—and how our Lord has answered those prayers, even more than any of us could ask or imagine. So let God be thrice-praised for his great faithfulness and steadfast love to his people and his Church!
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20, 21 ESV)