Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church in Surrey, British Columbia, recently hosted an evening discussion series on the topic of pastoral care for people who are gay. Fleetwood’s pastor, Tom Bomhof, said it was the right time for their church to have this conversation. “Our members think about these things and wonder how our church should respond,” he said.
The group began by studying both the 1973 and 2002 reports on homosexuality from synod (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC), using a conversational guide prepared by Walt Brouwer. Brouwer is an interim associate pastor at Fleetwood. Brouwer has used the guide to lead similar discussions in several other CRC churches over the past few years.
Brouwer said he prepared the guide for two reasons. “First, I wanted attendees to have an understanding of the CRCNA position on the matter of same-sex attractions in order to have a framework for the third report that will come before Synod in 2016,” he explained. “Second, I wanted to help attendees find a greater compassion toward those with same-sex attractions, something advocated by the synodical reports.”
Fleetwood member Arlene Van Hove said that the discussions did lead many of the audience “to become more compassionate to those struggling with homosexual identities.” She also appreciated the presence of a married gay couple in the group. “It challenged us to be thoughtful and reflective in our discussions,” she said.
Fellow church member Brian Woudstra said he attended the discussion series because he had never studied the synod reports before and felt that the church had also been ignoring the issue. “I now understand that there is a wide range of opinions on the subject in our church, and I have witnessed that it can be discussed respectfully,” he said. “But I have come to believe that we need to talk even more openly and more frequently with each other, and that our congregation needs to improve pastoral care in this area—not just the pastors, but all of us.”