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Synod Debates All One Body Controversy

June 18, 2015

After lengthy deliberation and debate, Synod 2015 decided not to accept a request that it “instruct and admonish” two Grand Rapids churches to discipline members who are are part of All One Body, an organization that advocates change in the Christian Reformed Church’s stance on same-sex couples in committed and monogamous relationships.

The request came from Classis Minnkota. In a lengthy communication, Minnkota cited a 1973 decision of the CRC, reiterated by several other synods, that condemns homosexual practice as sinful.

Since All One Body advocates full inclusion in the church of people who are practicing homosexuals in committed, monogamous relationships, Minnkota said its members should be subject to church discipline and urged synod to instruct the churches to whom they belong to initiate such discipline.

This synod declined to do so for two reasons: first, because the Church Order does not permit synods to instruct local congregations in matters of discipline and, second, because Classis Minnkota had failed to consult with the churches in question before bringing the request to synod.

More controversial was a proposal to synod from one of its advisory committees that it should  condemn the “public advocacy. . . of sinful behavior.”

In a long debate, synod deliberated whether this language would be harmful or helpful.

Several delegates argued that once synod had decided not to accept Minnkota’s request, any other action of synod on the matter was out of order. Others argued that the statement was simply a general statement, applicable to any sin.

Rev. Paul de Vries, Classis Thornapple Valley, said that it is simply a statement of the gospel. Rev.  C. James den Dulk, Classis Minnkota, after citing several Bible texts, said that the scriptures say no to ungodliness. They do “not allow us to live in unrepentant sin."

But Rev. Neil De Koning, Classis Alberta North, told delegates, “You can't stop this conversation. This [proposal] wants to silence this conversation. We need this conversation. By trying to put a fence around the conversation we are not helping the CRC.”

In a dramatic conclusion to the debate, the advisory committee withdrew the proposed statement  about “public advocacy. . . of sinful behavior.” Synod’s only action was not to accept Minnkota’s request for discipline.

Several delegates noted that a committee charged with providing pastoral guidance for same sex marriage will report to Synod 2016. Rev. Tim Hoekstra, Classis Chicago South, prayed for that synod and for all those in the church who feel isolated and estranged.

For continuous coverage of Synod 2015 including the live webcast, news, video recordings, photos, liveblog, social media links, and more visit