The two denominations will also hold several joint sessions

More than 160 years ago, in 1857, church members in Holland and Grand Rapids, Michigan, left the Reformed Church in America over disagreements about worship, theology, and lifestyle. They established a new denomination, now the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). Since then, the two denominations have remained separated, sometimes bitterly so.

This year, the RCA and the CRCNA are holding concurrent General Synods on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and will hold several joint sessions. The first joint session is the opening worship service of both synods, to be held Thursday, June 7, at 7:00 p.m. in the Calvin College chapel.

Leaders from Pillar Church in Holland, Michigan, will host the worship service. That Pillar Church is hosting is significant: the church is the result of a split from the RCA in the 1880s, but in 2012, it dually affiliated with the RCA and CRCNA. Pillar Church is one of a number of dual-affiliation churches working to mend the divide between the two denominations.

On Saturday morning, delegates to both synods will participate in joint advisory committees, which will consider a variety of ways that the RCA and CRCNA might collaborate now and into the future, including more extensive partnership, congregational renewal, and interfaith engagement.

Additional joint sessions will celebrate existing collaboration between the RCA and CRCNA, including church planting, disaster relief, refugee resettlement, global mission, and women’s leadership within the denominations.