Dordt College News

Christian Reformed Synod will meet at Dordt College

June 6, 2003

Over 200 leaders, pastors and elected delegates of the Christian Reformed Church will assemble at Dordt College in Sioux Center June 14-21 for Synod, the denomination’s annual business meeting.

The opening session will be at the B. J. Haan Auditorium on Dordt’s campus at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 14. A service of Prayer and Praise will be held Sunday, June 15, at 3 p.m. at the First Christian Reformed Church, 408 Arizona Ave. SW, Orange City. Both sessions will be broadcast by webcast(Orange City service will be tape-delayed)

Additional live webcasts will be offered Monday through Saturday, from 8:15-11:45 a.m. and 1:15-5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday. The public is also welcome to attend Synod sessions at the B. J. Haan Auditorium.

Synod 2003 is the broadest decision-making body of the Christian Reformed Church. The denomination numbers about 300,000 members in about 1,000 congregations in the United States and Canada. Congregations are grouped regionally into 47 divisions known as classes. Each classis sends four delegates to synod, two ministers and two elders.

The issue of bioscience and genetic engineering promises to generate discussion at this year’s synod, with a Bioscience and Genetic Engineering Committee established in 1999 now prepared to present its report, after a one-year extension was granted last year.

The 30-page report, printed in Agenda for Synod 2003, is being challenged by the Classis Iakota (Northwest Iowa and Southwest South Dakota), who have submitted an overture requesting that the report be reviewed by additional CRC scientists, physicians, theologians and pastors to make the report more scientifically sound and pastorally credible. Topics discussed in the report include the biblical, theological and ethical issues raised by the increasing capabilities and recent discoveries in bioscience and genetic engineering, including in vitro fertilization, surrogate pregnancy, artificial insemination by donor, birth control methods, abortion in cases of rape and fetal deformity, harvesting of fetal tissue and cloning.

Peacemaking and war have been topics of international discussion this past year, and the Synod is being asked to undertake a study of the CRC’s “just war” position and its commitment to peacemaking in the light of new realities within our world.

Women in Office will also be revisited at Synod, with an overture from Classis Grand Rapids East to honor convictions both for and opposed to women in office in the denomination.

With the Christian Reformed Church’s membership in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) now officially terminated, interdenominational relations will be discussed. Conversations with two other denominations were held this past year, with the Reformed Church in America discussion concluding on a positive note and the Protestant Reformed Church discussion termed “disappointing.” “Ecclesiastical fellowship” with the Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria (RCCN) is being recommended, following recent reconciliation between the RCCN and the Christian Reformed Church in Nigeria after 30 years. Although the CRC only joined the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 2002, there is already an overture asking that its membership be withdrawn.

A variety of other issues will be considered such as (1) a request to allow the casting of lots for choosing officebearers, (2) a request to approve a study regarding restorative justice in the criminal justice system, (3) an overture asking Synod to exercise discipline over the council and congregation of First CRC, Toronto, ON for their policy on gays and lesbians in the church (4) the alteration of the Church Order (Articles 23 and 24) and a Church Order Supplement (Article 17-a).

The exact time various discussions will take place will be unknown until proceedings are underway. The complete agenda and daily updates on the sessions will be posted on the denominational website

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