The sister denomination of the Christian Reformed Church may be headed toward a painful split, Synod heard on Tuesday.
The Reformed Church in America gave the CRC Synod a brief report on its own General Synod, which met about a week earlier.
“It was a good meeting; it was also difficult — joyful and sad,” said Eddy Aleman, general secretary of the RCA.
“The RCA is at a crossroads,” Monica Schaap Pierce, ecumenical associate for the RCA, told Synod 2019 delegates. “Our denomination will never be the same. And yet, this gives us the opportunity to write the next hopeful chapter with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
In 2018, the RCA formed a “Vision 2020” team to explore three options for the denomination’s future: staying together, reorganizing, or dividing. Factions of the denomination disagree on matters of sexuality, missiology, and more.
At their June general synod, the RCA proposed a change its rules so that, if approved next year, a simple majority will allow for a split. Previously, a two-thirds majority would have been necessary.
“That was a very consequential decision,” Schaap Pierce told The Banner. “We could end up with a polarization that does not require a consensus.” Discussions at the general synod indicated that the delegates were leaning toward the third option of dividing the denomination, she said.
In her address, Schaap Pierce praised the close relationship between the two denominations.
“Our efforts in discipleship, leadership, and mission have been enlarged and made more effective and efficient because of our collaboration with the CRCNA,” she said.
She ended with a call for unity—a call that has resounded in her own denomination, she said. “May the unity that is our gift in Christ be strengthened for God’s mission to the world,” she said.
Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.
About the Author
Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who claims both Canadian and American citizenship and grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. She is a member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina.