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Christian Reformed churches leave denomination in droves after anti-LGBTQ+ vote

Supportive christians marching LGBTQ pride parade Ocean View CRC member Christian Reformed Church in North America
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The Christian Reformed Church in North America voted last week to hand down a “limited suspension" to institutions that publicly embrace the queer community.

Several churches have made the decision to leave one of the oldest Christian denominations in the United States after the delegation voted to hit members who support LGBTQ+ worshipers with a “limited suspension."

The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), which has approximately 200,000 members, voted 134-50 last week to disaffiliate congregational leaders and institutions that go against the church's beliefs on same-sex relationships by publicly embracing the queer community. The decision comes two years after the synod voted to include “homosexual sex” in its definition of "unchastity," which also includes adultery, polyamory, and pornography.

The synod did not vote to designate same-sex relationships as a “salvation issue,” instead determining that it “does not meet the high standards of definition and articulation needed for declaring a heresy.”

Rev. Ryan Schreiber, a pastor from Michigan, attended the meeting to speak in support of LGBTQ+ members. He said he intends to disaffiliate his Grand Rapids church following the synod's vote, which he expects to negatively affect church membership and even threaten the denomination's longevity.

"I am deeply concerned about the Christian Reformed Church, and especially those that I’m leaving behind, gentle conservatives and moderates,” Schreiber told Religion News Service, adding, "There is a coalition of churches in the Christian Reformed Church that is turning the polity of the Christian Reformed Church into a steamroller."

Schreiber isn't alone — synod delegate Trish Borgdorff was one of several Reform leaders in Michigan that told local station News 8 her church also intends to disaffiliate itself. Ultimately, she expects the majority of the nearly 30 supportive churches in her area to follow suit, saying: "There isn’t room for us anymore in the denomination I love.”

“What grieved my heart the most was that we were separating over conflict,” Borgdorff said. “In a broken world where we so long for peace, that even under what we know to be God’s call on our lives, we couldn’t find it with each other. And so it was a call to all of us to acknowledge that the problem we are facing, we all contributed to. It’s not any one person, not any one side.”

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.