|Friends & Partners in Ministry,This past Monday the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America passed a recommendation that speaks directly to Room for All’s mission to advocate for the full participation of LGBT members and allies in the life and ministry of the RCA. The recommendation declared, “that homosexual behavior is a sin according to the Holy Scriptures, therefore any person, congregation, or assembly which advocates homosexual behavior or provides leadership for a service of same-sex marriage or a similar celebration has committed a disciplinable offense.”
The language used on the floor of the Synod and the language of the recommendation itself is deeply regrettable and is causing ripples of pain through the denomination. If you’ve been experiencing the same sadness, discouragement, anger and disgust that we as Room for All’s board of directors are feeling, we’d like you to consider the following:
First, this recommendation has limited power. Though it does have the power to break hearts, to use the language of love to veil hateful intentions and to shame the RCA, its official power to threaten pastors and congregations is limited. The General Synod does not hold the authority to discipline churches and pastors. That authority belongs to each individual classis. If a classis had the stomach to persecute a minister or a church for their inclusive love, they easily could have done it before this recommendation was passed. The risk we all take in publicly advocating for full inclusion is not changed by this General Synod. It is only highlighted.
Second, when the church has chosen to prosecute and punish people because of their inclusive ministry, it has only served to further Christ’s cause and open the church to all people. The very existence of Room for All is evidence of that. Our Lord possesses an uncanny ability to transform pain and suffering into hope and healing. We are confident that the passage of Recommendation 56 will prove to be distasteful enough to the church that the support for inclusion will grow and will become galvanized.
Finally, this recommendation will not dissuade our ministry. We will continue to live out our call to love shamelessly and to speak the truth of Christ to power and prejudice. We join together in solidarity as the family of the redeemed who are painfully aware of our own brokenness, our own mean-spirited tendencies and our own arrogance so that we may meet such expressions at the hands of others with tenderness and grace. We gently and persistently keep at the work of Christ to throw open the doors of the church that she might one day truly reflect the immensity of the heart of God. And we pray that as we behave in ways unbecoming to Christ as a denomination we’ll learn a lesson and find a better way.
Be strong and courageous, people of God.
Board member Rev. Thomas Goodhart has been dwelling on 2 Corinthians 4:5-15 lately, and we’ll conclude with these verses as well. The emphasis is Tom’s.
5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Eric Johnson, President of Room for All
Room for All – supporting, educating and advocating for full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Reformed Church in America. All are welcome.