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CRC Synod Has Questions For RCA

Sherry TenClay, Classis Red Mesa: “We are cousins, we are family, and we belong together.”
Steven Herppich

Responding to a request to “reexamine the ecumenical relationship with the Reformed Church in America,” (Overture 15), Synod 2024 voted to instruct its Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee to communicate with the RCA General Secretary and Commission on Christian Unity on several points “and to report to Synod 2025 regarding the responses received.”

Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. It is meeting June 14-20 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The approved request for communication, which passed in a 135-39 vote, instructs the EIRC to express the following:

  • a desire for shared commitment to the denominations’ confessional Reformed heritage, doctrine, and practice
  • a concern regarding the nature of churches that have left the RCA as being in alignment with positions of the CRCNA
  • a request for clarification on the RCA’s ongoing commitment in faith and practice to questions and answers 108 and 109 of the Heidelberg Catechism relating to the forbidding of unchastity, which encompasses homosexual sex
  • a request for clarification on whether RCA clergy have been or are being permitted to bless same-sex marriages or remain in same-sex marriages or romantic partnerships while remaining ministers in good standing

Synod asked the EIRC to “provide a recommendation to Synod 2025 regarding the ecumenical relationship of ‘church in communion’ with the RCA.” It wants the report issued by March 15, 2025.

“We acknowledge the RCA is no longer the same denomination as the one with whom the Pella Accord was formed in 2014,” said Aaron Greydanus, Classis Heartland, reporter for the advisory committee that considered the Classis Iakota overture.

The committee’s report quoted the RCA report to Synod 2024, which said the denomination “is going through a season of change and restructure” and was dealing with “deep divisions.”

Greydanus said, “Our faithfulness as a church in communion requires encouragement toward faithful statements and faithful practices related to our common Reformed confession.”

Synod delegate Sherry TenClay, Classis Red Mesa, in favor of the recommendation, appealed to the common heritage and shared creeds of the two denominations.

“The RCA is our mother,” said TenClay, whose father and brother were RCA pastors. “We left with the reasons that we may think now are good or bad, but we left. Now it’s been a joy to be in communion with each other once again because we are cousins, we are family, and we belong together. So while I think our mother is hurting much in the way that we are hurting, it’s very helpful to offer peace and comfort and prayer.”

Chris DeVos, Classis Holland, opposed the directive.

“I think that the timeline is way too tight for denominations to have conversations about their confessional standards,” DeVos said.

Synod passed only two of the committee’s three recommendations, after synod’s presiding officer found that a recommendation to “pause the new acceptance of ordained ministers through Church Order Article 8 B” was out of order—a synod can’t make part of the Church Order inoperative, even temporarily, without proposing the change to a subsequent synod.

On behalf of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee receiving the instruction, outgoing chair William Koopmans said, “Instead of talking to each other over the back picket fence, it would be better for us to sit on the front porch and have this dialogue and have this open, transparent conversation, and go through the very weighty questions that we've been instructed to dialogue on and report back on.”

Laura Osborne, a minister in the Reformed Church in America and the RCA’s coordinator of interreligious relations was an ecumenical guest of Synod 2024. In her greetings to the body and as part of the discussion on the instructions to the EIRC, Osborne clarified that the RCA’s articulated position on same-sex marriage has not changed.

“We have our historical stance that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Osborne said. Neither has the RCA’s polity changed that gives classes the responsibility of ordination of ministers. “Many of our classes still will not ordain or solemnize same-sex marriages. Some will,” Osborne said.

Synod 2024 is meeting June 14-20 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at Visit for the synod schedule, webcast, recordings, photos, committee reports, and liveblog. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.

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