Church

Big Questions

Q How is the CRC supposed to minister to members who can no longer attend? When my husband, who had Alzheimer’s, could no longer attend church, he received a letter stating that his membership was being terminated since he could no longer attend or tithe.

A I had to rub my eyes and read your question two more times before I believed what I was reading! I don't know the elders’ side of this story, of course, but I see no reason why you would misrepresent the situation. It makes me sad when you say your husband “had Alzheimer’s” because I must assume that he has passed. If so, you have my sincerest sympathy. I find this episode of membership termination totally incredible.

Consistories in the CRC are permitted to declare that someone's membership has “lapsed” if he or she “fails to attend and support the congregation” (Supplement, Article 67 of the Church Order), but only if that person “claims to be worshiping elsewhere.” Your husband obviously made no such claim. I’m very curious to know whether the two of you received even one pastoral visit about this matter before the elders took action.

A congregation in the CRC needs to minister in this kind of situation by surrounding those who suffer and their caregivers with Christian love and compassion. I truly hope that there were such caring folk around for you. Sending this letter to your husband does not qualify as caring and appears to be completely unlawful. People need to know that this definitely warrants an appeal to the classis. Consistories are accountable!

About the Author

Henry De Moor is professor emeritus of church polity at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. He’s the author of Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary

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