First, an apology.
In keeping with my personal feeling that public statements require public ownership and acknowledgment, I am choosing to open this blog with an apology. For those of you who received my comments about the Eastern classes or selecting delegates as contentious and condescending, I offer you my apology. It was not my intent to demean or de-legitimize anyone or any questions that were asked. I’ve tried to lead this classis into greater health and community since arriving in 2014 and clearly, my comments were not up to my (or others) standards for me. Thanks for receiving my apology.
On to some answers.
The Board has found itself in unchartered waters. The unchartered nature of the water started when the General Synod passed a motion that was unusual and technically “out of order” asking classes to send the same delegates next year. That action, in and of itself, acknowledges that all of us are in uncertain times.
During the years of my leadership, Zeeland Classis has used a rotational schedule of delegates. We are not sure when it started and it is custom, not a rule or order. Sometimes that works well for us and sometimes it doesn’t work well. By that, I mean that we have had General Synods where 1-2 of our delegates never attended. The Board feels strongly that this year, we should be more intentional about making sure delegates are committed to going. In addition, the Board has heard concerns from our delegates that some delegates have not been adequately prepared to participate – lack an understanding of what decisions mean (BCO process, etc.) and/or simply don’t participate out of a sense of powerlessness or lack of understanding. We want to make sure that delegates who represent Zeeland Classis are adequately prepared and aware of the items on the agenda.
Within weeks of General Synod 2019 (GS2019) concluding, the Board knew at least one of the delegates would not attend next year. The Board started talking about its options. A rotational add to the group – but how? The Board also talked about the need for the classis to take ownership of its delegates – maybe more than we generally do – in light of the historic decisions facing GS2020. After several discussions, the Board felt that the Zeeland Classis has the right (maybe even the obligation) to elect its delegates this year, not rotate them into position. Maybe that thinking is flawed. Maybe not.
In order to help the classis process that recommendation, the Board thought it should function as a nominating committee. That’s where some of you felt the conversation went off the rails. Having processed all this, it seems the Board has more thinking to do. It might even require a special classis meeting. We’ll have to ponder your input. We’ll have to discuss my verbal response. We’ll have to make and recommend decisions that we believe will help the classis move forward. That’s the nature of the Board’s leadership. We’ll do our best to serve you well.