A Toronto congregation, in danger of being disaffiliated from the Christian Reformed Church, could breathe easier after Classis Toronto’s January meeting. At that meeting, Classis Toronto (the regional group of churches) accepted a statement from First Christian Reformed Church of Toronto in which the congregation agreed to bring its ministry in line with the denomination’s position on homosexuality.
Rev. Nick Overduin, pastor of First CRC, expressed relief that the statement was accepted. “I was worried about First being ousted as a congregation,” he said. The communication from First CRC stated that it did not want to contribute to further unrest in the denomination and that it wished to maintain affiliation with the CRC.
However, Classis Toronto did not approve a request from First CRC asking the classis to overture the denomination’s annual synod to revisit the church’s 1973 guidelines on ministry to homosexuals. First CRC’s overture argued that new medical and genetic discoveries and new biblical scholarship warranted another look at the policies.
Overduin said that the overture was not adopted by classis because it was thought to require more fleshing out before it could be sent to synod. He said he appreciated the tone of the discussion. “It was concerned and loving. Classis wanted to help us. They made some wise comments,” he said.
The January deliberation was the latest installment in a continuing and often animated discussion within Classis Toronto and the denomination, which began in 2002 when First CRC announced it would allow gays and lesbians living in committed relationships to serve as elders and deacons. That is contrary to the CRC’s position on homosexuality, and First CRC has since backed away from that decision.
Overduin was uncertain of First CRC’s next step. “We’ll have to go back to the church and see what the congregation wants to do now,” he said.