Members of All One Body, a group promoting full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in Christian Reformed congregations, along with allies and LGBTQ+ Christians, gathered on the Calvin University campus June 12, where Synod 2023 is meeting. Organizers said they gathered to worship God and make their presence seen.
As delegates of synod, the Christian Reformed Church’s annual meeting, left their afternoon session they walked by a group of about 30 people singing songs like “Jesus Loves You” and “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” The group held signs with phrases like “All Love is Equal” and “Listen to All Reformed Biblical Scholars.”
John Chapin, a member of the All One Body board, said, the purpose of being there “is to have a presence and witness to what synod is doing and to let them know we are here and watching.”
Last year, All One Body led a similar gathering, and Chapin said, “This is an echo of what we did.”
Synod is discussing overtures (formal requests) that will “have an impact on the queer community and the allies,” said Chapin. Those include requests asking synod to revisit the confessional status of the belief that homosexual sex is “unchaste” according to the Word of God and the confessions held by the CRC.
Chapin said he and other supporters are hoping that Synod 2022’s decision around the Human Sexuality Report will be overturned this year, and that the denomination will “move in a direction towards, at least, first steps towards inclusivity.” Art Jongsma, another board member, said, “This is an opportunity for synod to soften (last year’s) stand and return to a position of pastoral advice instead of ‘settled and binding’ that forces people into a position and forces them to agree with it.”
Chapin said, “We noted the exec(utive) director commented on the decline in membership, particularly among young people. Studies we are aware of suggest that young people are moving away from the church because of their attitude towards queer members.”
Jongsma said All One Body has a 12-year history of “advocating for same-sex-attracted people who are in relationship, and acting for the church to open their doors and welcome them.”
Saying he believes “that’s what Christ would want us to do,” Jongsma said those involved with All One Body see the passages in the Bible that speak about same-sex relationships differently from those who believe they outright disallow all forms of same-sex sex. The cultural and historical implications are “not directly applicable,” according to Jongsma.
“At any rate, we see this as a difference of interpretation of passages in the Bible, and right now, the church is at a crux in making a decision,” he said.
People from All One Body intend to be on campus throughout the time of synod meeting, until June 15.
Synod 2023 is meeting June 9-15 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at thebanner.org/synod. Visit crcna.org/synod for the synod schedule, webcast, recordings, photos, committee reports, and liveblog. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.