The following was sent to Room for All from Rev. Dr. Norm and Mary Kansfield. Norm is a former president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and former General Synod Professor of Theology. Mary continues to serve faithfully as Room for All’s historian and archivist. They are both founding board members of Room for All.
Room for All was founded, in large part, after Norm’s trial before the General Synod 11 years ago- he was suspended from the office of Minister of Word and Sacrament (since reinstated) and deposed as a GS Professor of Theology for presiding at the wedding of his daughter and her wife. Below is a message of support to Room for All supporters in the wake of General Synod 2016’s decisions.
June 14, 2016
Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ — the Room for All Faithful,
After what the General Synod of 2016 has managed to pass during the past twenty-four hours, there will be some among us who will say that we can no longer have a ministry within the Reformed Church in America. After all, it was the counsel of our Lord that, when his disciples carried his message to somewhere in which they were not welcomed and their message went unappreciated, they should “shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them” (Mark 6, 11 and parallels at Matthew 10. 4 and Luke 9. 5; 10. 11). It was with just such a symbolic “shaking off of dust,” that Paul and Barnabas left Antioch because their message about Jesus was not welcome there. I want it understood that in our extreme disappointment, disillusionment, and discouragement, we who have struggled so long for the very soul of our denomination may wish to follow the example of Paul and Barnabas and solemnly turn away from our ecclesiastical home.
Everything within me wants to take my size 15 sandals, clap them together, and in a shower of pious dust leave this wretched denomination once and for all. But I cannot do that. I urge you to resist doing so also. The RCA ground under our feet may have shifted in the previous twenty-four hours, but if we leave, we must remember the thousands of GLBTQ folk imbedded within the Reformed Church for whom we have become a beacon of hope and authenticity. It is for them that we must stay. It is for them that we must struggle on. We do not need to worry about a place in the church for those who are sure that GLBTQ folk have no place in God’s love. They have their reward. We need to worry about all those folks who may be led to believe that because of their sexual orientation they don’t have a place in God’s love and God’s church. We cannot allow the light of Room for All to go out for them.
Let us therefore take up our work with renewed dedication on their behalf, in the powerful assurance that the God of love, the Son of righteousness, and the Spirit of power are indeed with us. Let us therefore renew our commitment to the ministry to which Christ our Lord has called us.
Mary and Norm Kansfield
Thank you both for this wonderful, thoughtful note of encouragement. I was stting here contemplating moving to UCC, but now I will try to find a way that I can help to open hearts and minds within the RCA.
You are right of course and as time moves forward there will be change. Look how long it took for women to finally be ordained in the RCA, at least approximately a hundred years after the first ever woman to be ordained in the 19th century.
Rev. R. Arden
Hello. I am writing a novel in which the Dutch Reformed church plays a significant role. In reading letters from the 1700’s I see how ministers here labored under decisions made by the classis in the Netherlands. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles especially in light of what happened in Orlando. Fight on.
This is a very much needed word of encouragement for someone who has been led of our Lord God to soon study at Western Theological Seminary, and to become part of the RCA. I know that our God is a God of Justice for ALL of his people. Thank you!
Preach on Brother Norm! I admire your character sir. It takes a person of amazing faith to be as “forgiving” as you have been and are now! After all the HATE that was thrown at you for just doing a beautiful act of LOVE you’re a better man than I am!
This is a beautifully written response that firmly lets LGBTQ people that they will not be abandoned in the RCA. Change will not happen if people leave although it is understandable that people sometimes must leave. I am praying for the RCA and Room for All that acceptance and love win over the hatred and exclusion passed by GS. I am praying that the classes stand up to those who want to force others out. Thank you, Room for All for being that “beacon of light”. You are truly a symbol of hope.
Thank you, Norm and Mary! I sat in front of my computer yesterday and struggled with how to tell my congregation the disappointing, but not surprising, results of General Synod. My first impulse was to “shake the RCA off of my shoes” and walk my congregation to the nearest UCC church. Instead, this morning I wrote to “Room For All” and asked that they send a speaker to us so we can start the process of becoming a Room For All church.
Rev. Cheri Kroon
Plainview Reformed Church
As someone who is currently serving as an RCA pastor – I certainly did my share of contemplating moving to the UCC. It may be a viable option for some but it is no panacea…and I still feel a connection to the denomination that I chose to become a member of. (Having grown up under another flag.)
I found these words to be very powerful and recognize what you, Norm and Mary have given in service to our Lord and the community. I started to wonder though if leaving wouldn’t engender an actual renewal of our denomination – of the Church – in which ALL people are truly welcomed at the Table. The mainline denominations are in decline and we KNOW that we are in a time of transition. Could we become a group of faithful believers, disciples in which the the need for RfA was no more because the LBGTQ community didn’t need a beacon of hope because they would be fully welcomed?
I don’t know, it’s just a thought that crossed my mind as I considered Norm’s words…at any rate, I’m not going anywhere unless the Spirit actually picks me up and drops me off elsewhere. Blessings….