A member of the Committee to Provide Pastoral Advice re Same-Sex Marriage revealed in a recent video interview that she has participated in at least one same-sex wedding and plans to do more.
Wendy Gritter gave the interview to Daily Xtra, a website that covers issues important to people with same-sex attraction. Gritter is the director of New Direction ministry, an organization that started as an ex-gay ministry but has since turned its focus to offering what New Direction calls “generous spaciousness” for Christians who have various interpretations of what the Bible has to say about covenanted same-sex relationships.
In an interview with The Banner, Gritter said she participated in the same-sex wedding ceremony of one of her New Direction board members, but did not officiate. “There were Christian family members experiencing inner conflict about the marriage, and he knew that I would be pastorally sensitive to them. He wanted there to be generous space within his marriage ceremony,” she said.
The context of [the interview with Daily Xtra] was a secular LGBTQ+ media outlet, she said. “My concern . . . was to communicate to their primary audience that there are life-giving spaces where the integration of being LGBTQ+ and a person of Christian faith are not seen as a contradiction.” In the video, the interviewer stated incorrectly that Gritter officiated a same-sex wedding. Gritter has a license to preach in her regional group of churches, but that does not qualify her to marry people in Ontario.
Some Christian Reformed people objected in various online forums to her participation in a same-sex wedding, specifically because she serves on the synodical committee whose mandate was to stay within the CRC’s 1973 position that same-sex relationships are sinful.
“It is unfortunate that people jumped to a number of inaccurate conclusions, most significantly that I was an ordained minister in the CRC,” she said. “To clarify, I am a member of a local CRC congregation who serves in full-time ministry with the LGBTQ+ Christian population through a ministry that has no official CRC connection. . . . In my participation on the committee for pastoral guidance re same-sex marriage, I chose to submit to the mandate of the committee, which meant working within the boundaries of the 1973 report.”
Gritter stands by her actions. “I am a CRC member who has spent the last 15 years, including completing a doctoral degree, engaged in these matters in many different denominations, congregations, and other Christian contexts. My priority in ministry, both in and out of the CRC, is the unity of the church where people can be honest about and safe expressing their deep convictions about interpretive matters. This is much messier than the assumption of conformity. However, it may be an essential facet of church culture to cultivate if we hope to continue to engage our young people and our neighbors in our local contexts. . . . If the CRC intends to be a place that restricts the local believer from acting in accordance with their conscience on interpretive matters, we are in deep trouble indeed.”
The synodical committee has not asked her to step down. “I have had one CRC pastor encourage me to step down, and, while I am willing to do so if the committee deems it necessary, I have heard from many more pastors and members in the CRC who [indicated] that my presence in the broader CRC conversation on these matters is valued.”
Rev. Rolf Bouma chaired the synodical committee. He noted that the committee’s report recommends freedom of discernment regarding participation in a same-sex wedding ceremony on the part of church members, so participation by any non-ordained committee member is consistent with the report’s recommendations. He also stated that Gritter remains a committee member and a signer of the report.
“We trust that Synod 2016 will have the maturity and discernment to recognize that the question of the appropriateness of any committee member’s support for LGBT friends, colleagues, or family is independent of the wisdom and merits of the committee’s report.”