Synod 2016 advised Christian Reformed churches and classes (regional groups of churches) to invite, as much as possible, the presence and involvement of same-sex attracted members when dealing with matters that affect the lives and discipleship of same-sex attracted members within the church. However, it declined to establish a panel of LGBT advisors to synod. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.
The request had come from Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan, which said, “It is a matter of justice that when the lives and faith journeys of some of us in the church are under discussion, that discussion must include the participants of those of us whose journey it is.” Charles Kooger, from that classis, said, “It’s about hearing the voices. We need to know our neighbor’s journey.”
Several delegates said that sexuality and sexual identities have moral dimensions that other categories of advisers to synod (women, ethnic minorities) do not.
Synod heard from several women, who hadn’t had a voice as delegates to synod until being allowed by Synod 2007. Margherita Bierling, Classis Chatham, said, “Let’s invite them to table.”
Paul Verhoef, Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan, pointed out that every statement, review, and assessment since 1973 has lamented how little progress has been made toward this goal, while yet hoping that change is just around the corner. “We invite them to classes and congregations, but not synod.”
Delegates were not convinced.
Synod 2016 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 10-17. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.