Neland Avenue CRC, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is one of many affirming churches in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. Below, you will find their statement.
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(Scroll down for info on joining Neland Avenue CRC for worship.)
Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Neland has no global statement on being an affirming church. Instead it has stated that its members who identify as LGBTQ+ are members in good standing and not under church discipline. Hence they are eligible to participate fully in the life of the congregation.
Excerpt from Neland’s 2022 Overture to Classis Grand Rapids East
“Responding to Synod 2016 One year after the formation of the Generous Spaciousness Committee, a congregational survey revealed a broad range of views on same-sex relationships, from traditional (40%) to affirming (40%) and in between (20%). The survey also showed us that many were hurting within the dialogue. Those who held the CRC’s traditional view reported feeling less safe to voice their opinion during discussion, and Council recognized its pastoral responsibility to provide safety for these members. Another portion of our congregation felt hurt and vulnerable as a result of the pastoral guidance of Synod 2016 (including that SSM members could or should be disciplined), and some feared that, because they or a loved one are part of the LGBTQ+ community, they might no longer be welcome at Neland or in any CRC. Council recognized its pastoral responsibility to care for these members too.
In a letter to the Neland congregation in the fall of 2016, Council named its pastoral responsibility to all members and pledged to continue to reflect upon Synod 2016’s pastoral recommendations. The letter concluded: But Council also wishes to state clearly that this congregation’s motto is still, “There is a place for you at Neland.” Even when we disagree, Neland Church will continue to be a place where all who seek God are welcome to experience
God’s love in our worship, to experience God’s grace at the communion table, and to serve God together with the gifts God has given them. Council was responding to Synod 2016’s pastoral advice, namely, that SSM members should be disciplined, which includes the possibility of withholding the sacrament and even excommunication. (See Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 440- 443, esp. the reference to Church Order Article 81-a on p. 442.) Despite a broad range of opinion about SSM within our membership, Council made it clear that SSM members of Neland were not objects of discipline and were members in good standing.
Members in Good Standing and Eligibility for Office: Neland’s nomination process for elders and deacons, for as long as most of us today can recall, has been to provide the congregation with a list of eligible members and request that all members prayerfully submit nominations; after nominations have been received, Council carefully considers the nominations and finalizes a slate of elders and deacons that is presented to the congregation for approval at the annual congregational meeting. Up until 2020, Neland’s Council did not include SSM members on the final slate, despite their status as members in good standing and despite the congregation’s frequent and numerous nominations of SSM members in the yearly process. Each year many on Council found it increasingly difficult to justify the functional, though not official, exclusion of SSM members from consideration for office. In 2019 Council received the report of an ad hoc committee appointed to assess the congregation’s varying perspectives about these difficulties.
Neland also sought the counsel of advisors from Classis Grand Rapids East, with the counsel
given focusing on Neland’s process for nominating elders and deacons. After prayerful
consideration and many months of careful conversation, Council’s decision was that it could no longer justify excluding SSM members from the final slate to be approved by the congregation, since they had never been placed under discipline.”
(Neland Avenue CRC meets in-person and streams its services on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. Join online via Vimeo https://vimeo.com/event/641780, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/NelandAvenueChristianReformedChurch, or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nelandavenuecrc.)
Download the current list of affirming churches and their statements here.