Synod 2016 added specific information to the Church Order Supplement regarding officebearers who confess to or are determined to be guilty of sexual misconduct. The changes were in response to a request to Synod 2015 to differentiate sexual misconduct from sexual abuse and to address the matter of resignation of officebearers in situations of abuse.
The Church Order will now note that a key dynamic in considering abuse of office is the power imbalance between an officebearer and a parishioner. Another addition is a more specific listing of behaviors considered to be sexual misconduct, including unwelcome touch, sexual activity, or emotional intimacy.
John Meiboom, delegate from Classis Toronto, asked if a deposed minister can serve as an elder. Faculty advisor and specialist in Church Order Kathy Smith clarified that an officebearer deposed on grounds of a pattern of abuse or abuse of a minor is not eligible for reinstatement to any office.
Another change addressed resignation of ministers who resign to avoid discipline. Church Order Article 84 details situations under which an officebearer may or may not be reinstated. Synod 2016 decided that those same details now apply to a minister who resigns under discipline or to avoid discipline (Article 14).
The Church Order is the set of rules that all Christian Reformed Churches agree to abide by. The Supplement flows out of the Church Order as explanatory material adopted by synod. Special discipline of officebearers (suspension and deposition) falls under Church Order Articles 82-84.
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. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.