As Synod 2007 nears, the discussion about whether women may be delegated to synod is heating up.
Several classes (regional groups of churches) are sending overtures (requests) to Synod 2007, urging the church’s annual denominationwide gathering to adopt a proposed change to the Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church that removes the gender requirement for officebearers. Those same classes are requesting that Synod 2007 drop the accompanying proposal that would prohibit women from serving as delegates for at least seven years.
Synod 2006 proposed that the word male be deleted from Church Order Article 3, allowing women to serve in all offices in the churches. But in what was called a compromise decision, Synod 2006 attached two conditions: that women be prohibited from serving as delegates to synod or as synodical deputies, and that there be a seven-year moratorium on discussion of the issue.
Classes Lake Erie, Northern Illinois, Chicago South, Grand Rapids East, Greater Los Angeles, Huron, Chatham, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, British Columbia Southeast, and Alberta North are all asking Synod 2007 to adopt the change to the Church Order that drops the word male, but are asking that synod not adopt the attached conditions.
Several more classes are asking Synod 2007 to reject the seven-year “sabbath” on discussion.
When Synod 2006 said women were not allowed to serve as synodical deputies, that reversed a decision made by Synod 2005. Several overtures are asking Synod 2007 to again allow women to be synodical deputies.
But there is no lack of opposition to changing the Church Order or to allowing women at synod and classis. Classis Illiana asked Synod 2007 not to adopt the proposed change in the Church Order deleting the male requirement for officebearers. And Classis Northcentral Iowa sent a communication to Synod 2007 stating that removing the word male from the Church Order contradicts Scripture.
In Classis Huron, Stratford (Ont.) CRC and Clinton (Ont.) CRC did not send delegates to the most recent classis meeting, citing their differing biblical interpretation on the issue.
In Classis Atlantic Northeast, Champlain Valley CRC in Waltham, Vt., kept its delegates home for a second time in protest.
In Classis Eastern Canada, Williamsburg (Ont.) CRC sent delegates to classis but notified classis they were attending under protest, due to the seating of women as classis delegates.
Classis Lake Superior acquiesced to the request of First CRC, Prinsburg, Minn., to transfer to Classis Minnkota, also over the issue of women in office.
Delegates from the 47 regions will meet when Synod 2007 convenes in June in Grand Rapids, Mich. With several classes meeting yet in May, there may still be more overtures to come.
For more classis news, please see pages 12-13.
—Banner news correspondents