Classis Witholds Action Regarding First Toronto

In September a synodical committee found that the leaders of First Christian Reformed Church in Toronto were acting outside the guidelines of the Christian Reformed Church pertaining to homosexuality. Classis Toronto declined to take immediate action and decided instead to study the synodical committee’s report and reconvene on Nov.10.

Synod 2005 created the committee, called an in loco committee, to investigate the position and practices of First CRC regarding homosexuality. It is only the third time in the denomination’s nearly 150-year history that such a committee, with the full authority to act on behalf of synod, has been appointed.

That committee concluded that the council of First CRC is not ministering within the denomination’s guidelines. It recommended that Classis Toronto cooperate fully with First CRC if it presents an overture asking the denomination to review its position regarding homosexuality. The committee also recommended that First CRC be required to conform to the denomination’s position in the meantime, or be disaffiliated from the denomination.

Rev. Nick Overduin, pastor of First CRC, told classis, “You don’t want to deal with this homosexual problem—it’s too hard, it’s too confusing. If you want to distance yourself from us, you will have to find a way to honorably discharge [us].”

Rev. Wayne Brouwer, chair of the synodical committee, said, “We do not wish for this matter to go away or be swept under a rug, or for the stories of pastoral care to be dismissed. We’re saying it’s important for everyone concerned, including the council of First CRC. We urged and pleaded with the council to bring an overture and engage the denomination.”

After the meeting, Rev. Hendrick Bruinsma, pastor of Maranatha CRC in Woodbridge, Ontario, said, “What we have here is a test of whether we believe in the denomination’s position strongly enough to stick to it. The synodical committee is simply reminding us that our denomination has adopted guidelines we believe are biblical, that in good faith we ought to hold each other accountable to them, and there are certain ways to review them in good faith.”

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.