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Synod Hears a Farewell From Grand Rapids East Delegate

Trish Borgdorff: “Today there is sadness, but there is also peace and hope.”
Steven Herppich

Trish Borgdorff, Classis Grand Rapids East, was granted the floor to share a farewell with the denomination at synod, the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. It concluded its 2024 session June 20 at the Calvin University chapel in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Derek Buikema, president of Synod 2024, said that Borgdorff sent her farewell words to him when making the request to speak and that she allowed him to make a few edits. Buikema said he wanted to allow Borgdorff the privilege of the floor because “some people are going to need to say farewell” and he wanted to “acknowledge this reality.”

Synod 2024 set a course of discipline for Christian Reformed churches acting contrary to CRC teachings, to progress toward repentance or disaffiliation. Borgdorff is an elder with Classis Grand Rapids East, which has “carefully deliberated, studied, and pastorally cared for one another as they have discussed LGBTQ+ issues through the years” and reached a different conclusion than synod.

Borgdorff is a member at Eastern Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids. The church has an affirmation that says, “Everyone is welcome here. Whatever your age, sex, race, abilities, economic status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, you are invited to participate fully in our Jesus-following community of faith.” Eastern Avenue has been a CRC-member congregation for almost 150 years.

Borgdorff said she wrote her farewell earlier this week. She began her remarks observing that the denomination is excited to welcome new church plants but said, “How we leave is also important to consider.”

“I don’t come to you with a spirit of ‘us vs. them’,” Borgdorff said, but that it is “our desire to further his kingdom, and somehow we see it all very differently.”

The daughter of Peter Borgdorff, a CRC pastor who was later executive director of the CRCNA, she said the CRC was “our home in the truest sense of the word.” She is grateful for the church, and “that makes this process particularly painful.”

Borgdorff said the people in her church “are a gospel-loving, story-telling, justice-seeking, joyful body of believers. … We trust a God who looks kindly on those of us who are uncertain and struggling—who can live with the gray areas of life and still trust in the wideness of his mercy.”

“Today, there is sadness, but there is also peace and hope,” Borgdorff said. “We believe that God’s church is bigger than any denomination, and his call extends beyond the boundaries of the CRC. We will remain faithful to God’s call on our community, trusting in his guidance and provision.”

Concluding her remarks, Borgdorff said, “We trust the Spirit will continue to move and chase after us, all of us, with goodness and mercy, and, someday together, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Then, with eternity on our side, we can find a way to live in unity.”

After her farewell address, delegates stood and clapped. Buikema said, “We love each other, and we love all the brothers and sisters in this denomination.”

Synod 2024 met 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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