I think it is important for the people of Reformed churches to know what is happening in your denomination that will have a direct impact on the life of local congregations. In June this year—less than two weeks from now—the General Synod of the RCA will meet in Grand Rapids, Michigan and vote on overtures that include:
1) Whether to enable each classis*—the body that has authority over the local pastors, consistories**, and congregations—to deny ordination to an LGBTQ person
2) Whether to enable each classis to discipline a pastor who is living in a same-sex relationship or who marries a same-sex couple or his/her congregation that allows it to happen.
3) Whether anyone with an affirming*** stance on LGBTQ persons will even be allowed to serve in any agency, commission, or task force.
In addition, there are attempts—and some actions already taken—to disband affirming classes and to allow the formation of non-affirming classes in order to gain more voting power within the denomination, both at the classis level and at the General Synod. This would enable non-affirming entities to virtually control what remains and is changed in the Book of Church Order, to which all congregations and pastors must adhere. Obviously this is good news for some and troubling news for others.
If you have questions about this, please ask your pastor about it. You can see the entire workbook for the General Synod this year at this link: https://www.rca.org/rca-basics/general-synod/general-synod-2018-workbook
I intend to write several posts this week to explain why I affirm LGBTQ persons as full members and legitimate leaders in the Christian church. I do not intend to provoke debate or disharmony. I merely want to share the views that have formed in my own mind and spirit over the past few years as I have studied and wrestled with the biblical texts, the life of the church, and a theology of humanity. Very few church people in my acquaintance are able to undertake the study it takes to give these a fair treatment. Since there are plenty of advocates for the non-affirming side in northwest Iowa and online, I want to present the other side of this contentious and important topic.
*A classis is a group of churches and their ordained leaders. It is somewhat equivalent to a Lutheran conference or a Presbyterian presbytery.
**A consistory is the group of elected leaders (elders and deacons) along with the pastor who govern the local congregation. It is somewhat similar to a Lutheran church board or Presbyterian session.
*** The use of “affirming” and “non-affirming” is problematic, I know. However, these are the ones I am choosing for the sake of simplicity and clarity.