Reformed Church in America to Discuss Pastoral Response to Homosexuality
By Ruth Miyake - Crossmap On June 25, 2012
The controversies over how to deal with homosexuality are highlighted in The Reformed Church in America's annual General Synod, and its response is to be discussed on Monday.
At the June 21-26 conference held at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, the Advisory Committee on Overtures and New Business is scheduled to bring its recommendations on overtures concerning homosexuality on Monday, reports the Christian Post.
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Some churches have urged the Synod to discipline those who promote homosexual behavior or conducts gay marriage.
There is also a pressure to end an agreement that allows sharing of ministers with three denominations that ordain homosexual ministers - United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Presbyterian Church (USA), according to RCA Today.
Preceding the discussion on Monday, the Synod agreed to a plan of presenting 10-word "statements of hope" based on "a pastoral response to homosexuality" that was discussed over the weekend.
This move was "designed to create a context where the voices of many individuals with different stories could be shared," said Lisa Vander Wal, the former president of the General Synod who was replaced by Tom Smith on Sunday.
While the Synod has affirmed that homosexual behavior is sin, Saturday night was filled with real stories where faith in Christ and homosexuality meet.
Citlau, a campus pastor at Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana, shared about experiencing gay feelings for most of his adolescent and adult life, according to RCA Today.
As he experienced the transforming power of encountering Jesus, and His grace and mercy, he could die to a sinful life. Citlau has been married for a decade, and he and his wife Amy have four children.
"I was deeply sexually confused, ashamed, and broken. There were no quick fixes or easy answers," he confessed.
"I experienced amazing love in church. I encountered the sweet, sweet mercy of Jesus there. God in his great mercy rescued me, challenged me, and in his resurrection power, brought me new life."
"My vision for the RCA is that we boldly be agents of the splendid gospel," said the campus pastor.
"This is not an issue; it is about people," said Pastor Fred Harrell of City Church of San Francisco, where gays and lesbians are provided with a safe place to engage one another, especially in areas of disagreement.
"The church must ask how radical will be our grace and patience. We are not sacrificing orthodoxy but embracing it, while also expanding our empathic imagination. Our posture is first welcome and inclusion, followed by ongoing process of discipleship."
Delegates were urged to be "respectful in conversation with each other in this matter" and to "maintain the unity of the body through the bond of peace."
"I am utterly convinced that trying to legislate our way out of our differences will not work, even as it has not worked in virtually every other denomination around us," said Vander Wal.