CRC Tells LGBTQ-Affirming Congregations to Retract and Repent

Congregations that don’t comply with its traditional stance have a year to enter a process of discipline and restoration.

Two years ago, the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) clarified its stance against homosexuality. Last week, the denomination clarified its expectations for churches whose LGBTQ-affirming teachings contradict that stance.

At its 2024 Synod, the CRC instructed affirming congregations to repent, retract any divergent public statements, and comply with the denomination ’s beliefs on sexuality going forward. Pastors, elders, and deacons at affected churches have been placed on a limited suspension.

The move was recommended by an advisory committee and approved by synod delegates in a 134–50 vote last Thursday.

Many saw the discipline as an opportunity to restore affirming churches back into compliance with CRC teachings and confessions, which hold that all same-sex sexual activity is sinful.

Yet at least 28 churches—including some of the denomination’s most historic—may opt to leave instead. They have a year to submit to discipline or disaffiliate.

“There was no desire for anybody to be removed from office or disaffiliated from the denomination,” said Stephen Terpstra, senior pastor of Borculo CRC in Zeeland, Michigan, and vice president for this year’s synod. “The desire, always, is discipleship, that we would be reunified, that we would see repentance.”

The Christian Reformed Church includes 230,000 members at more than 1,000 churches in the US and Canada. The denomination has roots in Dutch Calvinism, and its synod takes place at affiliated Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which welcomes LGBTQ students but officially upholds CRC teachings on sexuality in its policies.

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