The Synod 2016 is meeting on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, beginning tomorrow, June 10 and finishing its work on June 17. The Synod is the annual meeting of the Christian Reformed Church leadership with 198 delegates from USA and Canada. I will be a synodical delegate representing Classis Grand Rapids South this year. Gayla Postma highlighted the main reports coming to the Synod 2016 in the recent issue of The Banner. The Agenda for Synod 2016 shows that “The main item on this year’s agenda will be homosexuality and same-sex marriage,” Postma writes.
The Synod will not directly discuss the biblical teaching on same-sex marriage but will receive the report on Pastoral Guidance re Same-sex Marriage, written by a committee appointed by Synod 2013, prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in USA. Most of the 26 responses or overtures to the report want the Synod not to approve the report. Some responses “want the Church Order (the rules that bind Christian Reformed churches) changed to note in a supplement to Article 69c that marriage is only between a man and a woman, so clergy officiating at a same-sex marriage will be in violation of the Church Order,” writes Postma.
A second report, Creating a New Family: A Circle of Conversation on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. This doctrine “set forth a principle that justified colonization and codified racial hierarchies in the law, placing European, Christian nations in the position of power” over the native and indigenous people discovered centuries ago by explorers in North America, Africa, and around the world. Specifically to the CRCNA, the report calls for the CRC to repent of and lament its trespasses against the Navajo and Zuni peoples. According to this report “The CRC was wrong to establish and run a boarding school named Rehoboth; the land the missionaries sought to conquer was not theirs to flourish in; it was wrong to punish students for speaking their language; our denomination was wrong to take children from their homes. The CRC Board of Heathen Missions initiated a lot of pain through its dehumanizing view of Native Americans.” Postma notes that “The church councils of Rehoboth (N.M.) Christian Reformed Church and Zuni (N.M.) CRC denounced some of the conclusions in the report going to Synod 2016 from the Doctrine of Discovery Task Force.”
A third report of the Committee to Study Religious Persecution and Liberty, recognizing that today the “persecution of Christians is a global phenomenon—and a growing problem” not only in the Middle East but around the world. But the report acknowledges that “even in Western democracies, where legal protections for religious liberty are relatively strong, the threats to faithful presence in society can be quite real, even if they are indirect and less severe. Many Christians in North America are increasingly anxious about their own religious freedom.” One of the recommendations of the report is to make sure that each congregation appoints a prayer coordinator that will be informed about persecution around the world and would update the church regularly on this topic.
Postma notes that The Banner will post articles on its website throughout the week and keep readers updated via Twitter (hashtag #crcsynod) and Facebook. There will also be a live webcast, liveblogging, and press releases from CRC Communications. The July/August 2016 print issue of The Banner will include a round-up of news from Synod 2016.