Three study committee reports headed to Synod 2016 (the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church) are now available for study. All of the reports come in response to mandates of previous synods
The Committee to Study Religious Persecution and Liberty was mandated by Synod 2013 to “provide a Reformed framework that establishes a biblical and theological grounding for religious liberty and the injustice of religious persecution and propose individual and group action that empowers the church in our increasingly secularized North American setting to walk alongside and intercede on behalf of those who are subject to religious persecution or denied religious liberty at home or abroad.”
The Doctrine of Discovery Task Forcewas assigned by Synod 2012 to “facilitate a discovery process—a learning process . . . to come to a shared understanding of the Doctrine of Discovery and its consequences,” including how it came to be and what role the church and European social/cultural attitudes played in its creation and propagation. The doctrine was the belief that North American lands were empty of humans prior to the arrival of European immigrants.
This report was slightly redacted by the church’s Board of Trustees. The preamble to the report notes that out of pastoral concern for one of the “storytellers” within the report, the board decided to instruct the executive director to pursue the content of the story through other appropriate and pastoral channels and to remove it from the task force report. Rules of synodical procedure allow this in certain circumstances. According to those same rules, the original document will be given to the synodical advisory committee that deals with the report at synod. The preamble goes on: “While it is premature to describe how the story’s message will surface through other channels at this time, we fully expect that our efforts to utilize other channels will be explained at synod, whether such activities will be partially or fully implemented.”
The third report comes from the Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance re Same-sex Marriage. Two committee members, Jessica Driesenga and John M. Rottman, disagreed on some issues with the majority and wrote a separate minority report on those points.
Responses to study committee reports must come to synod through church councils and classes (regional groups of churches) as overtures or communications and must be received by March 15, 2016, to be included in the synod agenda.
The Banner will publish summaries of the reports and their recommendations in the coming months.