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LGBT+ Issues create tension in CRC

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Map of churches in Classis Grand Rapids East . Photo courtesy Classis Grand Rapids East.

Map of churches in Classis Grand Rapids East . Photo courtesy Classis Grand Rapids East.

Map of churches in Classis Grand Rapids East . Photo courtesy Classis Grand Rapids East.

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A report from the Christian Reformed Church’s winter classis meetings, in which regionally grouped churches discuss ministry-related issues, indicates that LGBT+ issues are a source of tension among CRC classes.

The report read: “Classis Minnkota asks Classis Grand Rapids East to explain by way of letter to Classis Minnkota (interacting with Scripture, the Church Order and synodical decisions mentioned in the appeal) why they have continued to allow All One Body meetings in churches of their classis without these churches clearly stating that they do not endorse the teachings of All One Body, which they believe are contrary to the Word of God and the Covenant for Office-bearers.”

A Calvin staff member who is also on the council of Eastern Avenue CRC described All One Body as “a group of concerned CRC people advocating for full inclusion of LGBT people, including covenanted, same-sex marriage.”

According to their website, All One Body envisions a world in which “congregations in the Christian Reformed Church will be gracious places where all persons are welcome, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, and where all can give and receive the support needed to be God’s loving servants in the world.” The group meets once a month at Eastern Avenue CRC, and hopes to create an open, grace-filled space where all are welcome to share stories and discuss the CRC’s response to LGBT+ Christians.

By sending a letter to Classis Grand Rapids East, Classis Minnkota is asking the classis to discipline Eastern Avenue CRC and other churches who have hosted All One Body meetings. This letter is also a potential step toward bringing the issue to Synod, the governing body that represents all the classes.

According to the Calvin staff member, this is not the first time Classis Minnkota has written letters regarding All One Body. Eastern Avenue CRC and Calvin CRC have been asked why they host All One Body meetings even though the group’s mission is against church order. Eastern Avenue CRC has responded to letters from Classis Minnkota, although the responses have not been to the satisfaction of Classis Minnkota.

Our stance on it is that this is not a doctrinal matter, so we can discuss this,” said the Calvin staff member. “We’re not discussing the nature of the trinity or whether Jesus is the son of God, we’re discussing something we would see as a disputable, debatable matter.”

The Christian Reformed Church website states the denomination’s current official position toward the LGBT+ community: “Homosexuality is a condition of disordered sexuality that reflects the brokenness of our sinful world. Persons of same-sex attraction should not be denied community acceptance solely because of their sexual orientation and should be wholeheartedly received by the church and given loving support and encouragement.”

However, debates about the relationship between the LGBT+ community and the CRC remain active. Although Synod 2016 adopted a report that placed increased restrictions on pastoral guidance for same-sex marriage, it also appointed a new study committee to report on the biblical theology of human sexuality in 2019. In addition, Classis Grand Rapids East submitted its own study report offering theological basis for supporting same-sex marriage, contrary to the CRC’s position on same-sex marriage in 2016.

For a more comprehensive review of how members of the CRC view LGBT+ issues and same sex marriage, see the CRC’s Agendas and Acts of Synod on the website’s homosexuality page, or for an additional perspective that isn’t the CRC’s official position,  visit the Classis Grand Rapids East website to see their study report on same-sex marriage.

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