For the first time in its short existence, the Returning Church movement held an event outside of West Michigan.
About 70 people gathered for a meeting in mid-September at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Returning Church was started in 2006 by six pastors who lamented the Christian Reformed Church’s decisions regarding women in church office made by Synod 2006 (the denomination’s annual meeting).
“This meeting is not to be a gripe session,” said Rev. Marvin Leese of Bethel CRC. “[It is] to stress the wonderful heritage we had in the past and hopefully have in the future.”
Rev. C. James den Dulk of Sparta, Mich., was the main speaker. “Each and every one has the responsibility to be a living member of the church,” den Dulk said. “And remember to leave the details to God.”
Den Dulk made no mention of Synod 2007’s decisions other than to say he was thankful synod allowed individual classes (regional groups of churches) to allow only male delegates at their meetings.
One questioner later asked if Synod 2007’s decisions, which allow women delegates to synod, resulted in greater interest in the Returning Church movement. Den Dulk responded that it was too early to tell.
Phil Westra, interim pastor at Cedar (Iowa) CRC, attended the meeting in a fact-finding mode.
“I came just to hear about the issues they are discussing,” he said. “I think this is very new. A lot of things are still developing. Emphasis on the youth is something I share deep conviction about.”