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Synod 2024’s Rulings on Appeals

Derek Buikema, president of Synod 2024, read into the public record the decisions on four appeals considered in closed session.
Steven Herppich

Synod 2024 of the Christian Reformed Church in North America heard a number of appeals in closed session. The following is a summary of the public decisions.

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

Appeal 4: Member of Grace CRC and Classis Grand Rapids East

Synod sustained the appeal of a member of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., who protested the congregation adopting a statement affirming same-sex marriage. The congregant brought the objection to Classis Grand Rapids East, which responded by forming an Alignment Committee to “listen to churches of classis, to describe where each church is on sexuality issues, and to discuss with each church ways to follow synodical guidelines, given their position and desire to minister faithfully to all.”

The congregant then appealed to synod, which ruled that Grace CRC should rescind its affirming statement, express its commitment to CRC confessional teaching, and require its officebearers to submit to a gravamen process. Synod also instructed Grace CRC to rescind its decisions about same-sex marriage and instructed Classis Grand Rapids East to use the earlier decision of Synod 2024 as they come into compliance as a classis.

“There has been an increase of publicly affirming or protesting churches within classis GRE every year since 2020, even within this present year,” the committee that studied the appeal reported. “This underscores the appellant’s concern about noncompliance and the Alignment Committee’s ability to address it, as well as concerns about conflicts of interest. The appellant is striving to fulfill biblical and covenantal mandates for discipline.”

Response to Appeal 5: Moline CRC and Classis Grand Rapids South

Synod did not accept the appeal of Moline Christian Reformed Church, which had issued an overture to Classis Grand Rapids South, asking classis to “take immediate steps to fully align with synod’s decisions regarding the Human Sexuality Report.”

Moline CRC had claimed several examples of non-compliance within the classis of synod’s position on the human sexuality report.

Classis Grand Rapids South responded by saying that there were no churches or officebearers within classis promoting same-sex marriage, but “rather there is a conflation of ‘perceived inaction’ for ‘subtle approval.’”

Synod did not sustain Moline’s appeal.

Appeal 2: Covenant CRC and Granum CRC and Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan

Synod did not sustain the appeal of Granum (Alta.) Christian Reformed Church and Covenant CRC in Calgary, Alta., of a March decision of Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan.

At that meeting, classis considered a motion that all delegates would be required to sign or re-sign the Covenant for Officebearers before the meeting could proceed. This would be an exception to the normal procedure. Classis defeated the motion. Granum and Covenant appealed the decision to synod.

Synod determined the classis followed the rules of procedure and the normal practice of classis, which was the basis of the appeal. It also said the appeal asked for action “which is beyond the scope of an appeal of a decision of classis,” therefore not meeting the commonly accepted definition of an appeal.

Appeal 3: Trinity CRC and Classis Muskegon

Synod did not sustain the appeal of Trinity CRC in Fremont, Mich., of a February decision of Classis Muskegon regarding a challenge of the seating of delegates from Bethany CRC in Muskegon, Mich. Trinity claimed the Bethany delegates violated the Covenant for Officebearers “by affirming and teaching the validity of same-sex relationships.”

Classis Muskegon put the issue to a vote, and the classis approved the seating of the Bethany delegates. Trinity appealed the decision of classis, saying its action violated the decisions of Synod 2022 and 2023.

Synod ruled that Classis Muskegon followed proper procedures that were in place at the time of the meeting. It also determined that the classis “has made and continues to implement substantive changes by reinvigorating the practice of church visiting in response to synodical direction that classes guide councils and congregations into compliance.” The classis is engaged in ongoing conversations with Bethany CRC.

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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