Finding Joy in Diaconal Work; A Deacon’s Story

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

[Pictured above: In June, Clearview CRC joined other Oakville churches for the 10th Annual Oakville Community Food Drive to help restock the shelves at the Oakville Food banks and The Compass. Clearview’s members reached over 1,600 houses in their neighbourhood to help advertise the food drive, thanks to more than 120 volunteers!]

Back in June, Diaconal Ministries Canada posed the question, “Why are Deacons needed at Classis & Synod”. We were pleased to hear what other deacons and ministry leaders had to say and one particular email came from Ada Kloet. She and her husband are members at Clearview CRC in Oakville, Ontario. Not only that, but Ada and her husband, George, are both deacons – the first husband-wife deacon ‘team’ in their congregation. Erin Knight had the pleasure of talking to Ada about her experience growing up in the CRC and also about serving as a deacon.

For many of us growing up in the CRC, it felt at times that we were simply a part of our ‘parent’s church’. Our fathers and mothers were busy serving their time on Council, helping out with Sunday School or children’s ministries, being part of the choir perhaps, or fill-in-the-blank. Our parents diligently and faithfully served God and their church with their time AND resources. While most work was done inside the church walls, some ‘outreach’ was also being done, like sponsoring a refugee family or collecting food for the local food bank. And while all of this work was good and helpful and kingdom-building, many of the younger members would sit in the pew and think, ‘is there more to this Christianity thing?’

Enter Ada Kloet. She, too, grew up in a Christian Reformed church with her father being a “career elder”, as Ada puts it. This meant he would be “on for 3 years and off for 1”, and repeat! While Ada respected her parents and their beliefs and the value they put on church, she and her husband, having children of their own, began wondering if there was ‘something more’. This wondering led them to leave their church for a time to learn and discern. After some years away at another local church outside of the CRC denomination, George and Ada were both led back to their CRC congregation with a new mindset and a fresh sense of contentment. They had discovered a new way of ‘doing church’ – a new way of living out their faith day-to-day – and they were excited to come back and find that their former church was also changing. And even more so, that this Christian Reformed congregation was not alone.

Ada and her husband had discovered a new way of ‘doing church’ – a new way of living out their faith day-to-day – and they were excited to come back and find that Clearview Church had also changed.

Ada remembers her father saying often, ‘It’s time to hand the keys over to the next generation. I may not always agree with how things are done or how the next generation decides on the issues but we must move forward.’ And Ada agrees. “Something is happening in the CRC overall,” she shared. While she isn’t entirely sure where it came from, she sees the denomination echoing the need for change in order to move forward; a desire to step out in faith, coupled with a desire for unity.

When Clearview CRC realized the need for change and the need to be more intentional in reaching out into their community, they knew they needed help. So they brought on a staff member to help get their church on track. Over the years the job evolved into a “Community Engagement Specialist” position. The purpose of this position was to help the church grow in their love for God and for people in their community. The church is located in Oakville, Ontario, which has the reputation of being a city with primarily “rich” people, but, just like any other town in any other province, there are many who struggle day-to-day. So their church began to reach out by holding community dinners and a community cooking group, running a year-round food pantry, holding bible studies, being a part of a Justice Film Festival, and more.

The church has discovered that collaboration in ministry helps them offer more wholistic assistance to the people they are serving. Their church really owns the ministries listed above and most are done in collaboration with other agencies in their city or region. Networking with local agencies who can assist their church not only helps the church (so they aren’t trying to do it all), but also the individual person or family receiving assistance: if someone else can do it better, let them!

This was also seen in a personal way for Ada. Being a retired nurse, she has a heart for helping people deal with loss. Griefshare was a program that Ada became a Facilitator for and she was trying to get it off the ground at Clearview. Unfortunately, she was having trouble finding people within the church with the same passion and desire to help her. She began looking outside her church walls, which was “perhaps what God wanted in the first place!” she says. Ada reached out to another local church and discovered they had nine (9) people on their team. Ada now works with this church to provide this important and impactful ministry to those going through loss.

Collaboration has also found its way into their Church’s Council. A couple years ago, Ada and her husband, George, agreed to let both of their names stand for the office of Deacon. While this wasn’t typically the ‘norm’, when the casting of lots was done and both of them got it in, it seemed to them that God could be affirming this kind of ‘teamwork’. Being a Husband-Wife team has been a wonderful way of doing diaconal ministry: Ada says they are able to share the burdens and challenges of their roles with each other and offer one another advice and encouragement. More recently, other husbands and wives at their church have become elders and deacons through the casting of lots, which has been further confirmation from God that He was approving this type of ‘collaboration’ in diaconal work!

In her role as deacon, Ada was chosen to attend the Toronto Classis meetings and also Synod this year. She has found attending these meetings to be enlightening and encouraging. She went in with an open mind and was willing to listen and learn. When asked about deacons being seated at these larger denominational gatherings, Ada said she has come to realize that Deacons are called to serve the church just like the elders and pastors are and they oversee so many important ministries: community engagement/outreach, worship, stewardship/benevolence, justice, etc. According to Ada, if the Council is charged with leading the local church and deacons are also part of that Council, why wouldn’t deacons be seated at Classis and Synod?! This point is echoed in the “Top Reasons Deacons Are Needed at Classis & Synod” sheet DMC recently put out: it is about the full representation of the church. When deacons are missing from major assemblies, the full voice of the church is not heard, nor is the full ministry of the church under discussion (from Diakonia Remixed).

For Deacons who are still hesitant and unsure of being part of these large gatherings, Ada encourages them to be okay with being the ‘newbie’: “everyone is at that place at one time or another and will experience the same learning curve,” she says. Being a part of Classis and Synod will help deacons experience a better connection to other CR churches and to the denomination as a whole, which has been Ada’s experience.

Ada believes being a part of Classis and Synod will help deacons experience a better connection to other CR churches and to the denomination as a whole.

Moving forward, Ada continues to be excited about how God can use her to do His good work. Her ‘advice’ to other deacons would be to first carry each other’s burdens, pray, and worship together – and THEN work together. She would also tell deacons to encourage each other’s passions, no matter where that may lead someone to serve. In their own diaconate, one deacon had a passion for stewardship and was led to serve in a different ministry and they have learned to celebrate that!

As Ada shared with us in her initial email, “My father would be glad today to see enthusiasm about people’s faith and he would be glad to see the church moving forward in 2018 in unity and hope for a bright future.”

Thank you Ada for sharing your story – about your personal walk with God and about your experience serving as a deacon! To God be the Glory!

Story by | Erin Knight, Communications Coordinator at Diaconal Ministries Canada

What’s YOUR Story?

What have you learned by serving as a deacon? What has been a highlight? What has been the most challenging? Share your story with Erin, our Communications Coordinator.

Deacons at Classis & Synod… Why it’s not just “Another” Meeting!

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Every year in the early part of June, our denomination gathers for what we call Synod. Delegates from each Classis in North America come together to pray, worship, learn, discuss and make decisions that will guide our denomination into the future God has set out for us. On a smaller scale, each Classis in Canada and the US also has its own meetings throughout the year to help churches on a more ‘local’ level live into their mission and work together to build the Kingdom of God.

In recent years, a decision was made to allow Deacons to attend both of these larger gatherings as delegates, alongside elders and pastors. This was a hallmark decision as it affirmed the Office of Deacon as being equally as important as the Offices of elder and pastor, the ‘spiritual leaders of the church’.

Here at DMC we’ve been talking about this for some time and in our conversations, we’ve discovered some of the joys and hopes Deacons have regarding this new opportunity, but we’ve also heard about some of their fears and uncertainty. In a recent interview with Ada Kloet, a deacon at ClearView Christian Reformed Church in Oakville, ON, she expressed much appreciation for these larger denominational gatherings and for the inclusion of deacons. In her time as a deacon, she has realized that deacons are involved in many different areas of ministry (community engagement, worship, benevolence) and that they do important and impactful work. Since deacons are called to serve the church just like elders and pastors are, and since they are part of the church’s council, “why wouldn’t deacons also be seated at Classis and Synod?!” But, she went on to say, meetings do need to have value for deacons so they’ll want to go.

Since deacons are called to serve the church just like elders and pastors are, and since they are part of the church’s council, “why wouldn’t deacons also be seated at Classis and Synod?!”

Her greatest advice for deacons attending these meetings is to “be open to learning and listening”; it’s okay to be the newbie as everyone has been at that place at one time or another. Among the many benefits of attending Classis and Synod, she added that it can help Deacons learn more about what the CRC is about and how God is clearly at work. (Look for the full article/interview to come out soon!)

So, after many conversations with deacons, CRC staff, Mr. Andy Ryskamp, and others, we’ve complied our own Top Reasons Why Deacons are Needed at Classis & Synod. Take a look and see what you think. And share this with all of your deacon friends.

What points do you agree with? What did we miss? We’d love to hear from you

Our greatest hope for deacons (and all council members really) is that they will see these larger gatherings as much more than just ‘another meeting’. As Ada reminds us, these gatherings can be an opportunity to listen and learn and see where God is at work in our denomination and how Deacons can be a part of that!


Synod 2015 and diaconal ministry

Posted by | Equipping Deacons, News & Events | No Comments

Dear Deacons:

This is a significant year for deacons in the Christian Reformed Church.  The 2015 Task Force report approved some important principles for diaconal ministry in the 21st century.  The report addressed the role of deacons in congregations and communities as well as the role of elders. And, Synod approved deacon delegation at Classis & Synod.

So, what’s up with deacons going to Classis & Synod? And, what’s up with the upcoming changes to the Church Order? I will try to summarize some of the more significant decisions. Please feel free to call DMC staff and Board of Directors if you have any questions.

  • Both Deacons and Elders give leadership to distinctive areas of ministry. However, deacons and elders also have some common areas of ministry. (see changes to Article 12 & 25).  “It is not simply that the church has deacons, but rather it is the case that the whole church is itself called to diakonia (works unto others)” (2013 Report page 4 & Ephesians 4:11-13).  Deacons are important ministry leaders.
    • Implication? Deacons are not to just perform diaconal ministry on behalf of the church, but to mobilize and equip the church to fulfill its calling.
  • The proposed changes to the relationship of elders and deacons point to the importance of the two offices working together for the sake of God’s mission. The CRCNA agencies are committed to supporting our congregations to strengthen their missional and incarnational presence in our communities.
    • Implication? Dialogue is needed at the Council level and Classis level meetings on how to strengthen the partnership of these two leadership roles. Contact DMC staff for suggestions.
  • The 2015 Report was also guided by the ‘principle of parity.’ This parity is best demonstrated by diaconal presence in the major assemblies of the church.  This is “not about equal representation but about the full representation of the whole church which these offices represent” (2015 Report page 329).  For this reason, we recommend that each classis examine their agendas to reflect these new changes (see changes to Article 34).
    • Implication? Diaconal involvement should be invited to shape agendas at Council and Classis.

At many classes across the country, deacons have already been included.   But with the Church Order changes adopted by this synod, each church now needs to send an elder, deacon, and a minister to classis meetings unless “great distance or other weighty reasons” prevent them from doing so.

What implications will this have for your leadership role, your church, and the denomination as a whole?  Together we hope to shape the answers to this question.  So, let’s continue the conversation.  Let us know how we can support you along in this journey at Classis or at your local church.

-written by Hans Kater, National Director, Diaconal Ministries Canada


for more on Synod 2015, click here