Overture on Local Option and Continuing Study of HSR

(This overture is also available as a downloadable pdf below.)


This overture is a concise appeal to allow local affirming churches to continue their ministry,
without forcing others to adopt the same posture. Pastoral care was harmed by Synod 2022 decisions
and needs redress. The HSR report relied entirely on one theological construct, “the order of creation,”
which is not universally adopted by Reformed scholars and is absent in the theology of John Calvin. The
overture calls for open discussion of other Reformed theological understandings.


Committed to inclusivity, Fellowship Christian Reformed Church of Edmonton desires to
“welcome all who seek to follow Christ to participate as full members in the life of our
church. We strive to remain faithful to the promises made at baptism, welcoming and
nurturing the faith of all God’s children. We seek to build community in the midst of
diversity and honour God’s greatest commandment – to love one another as Christ
loves us” (Fellowship CRC Statement of Inclusion, adopted 2015).
Our commitment to welcome God’s children and invite them to full participation in the
life of the church extends to all, including “people of all ages, colours, genders, sexual
orientations, abilities, ethnic origins, and economic circumstances” (Fellowship CRC
Statement of Inclusion). Our church arrived at this statement after several years of
common prayer, theological reflection, learning, and discernment, and we
communicated the statement to the church visitors of Classis Alberta North in 2015.  We
have tried to live up to this statement of inclusion, recognizing that we are broken
people on a journey of learning who need God’s grace, Christ’s teaching, and the
empowerment of Christ’s spirit.
Our church is convinced that the deliberations over the Human Sexuality Report at
Synod 2022 and the decision to adopt the corresponding majority report, including the
interpretive statement on Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 108, are at odds with our Christ-
inspired commitment to welcome and love all of God’s children.


Fellowship Christian Reformed Church of Edmonton requests that Classis Alberta North
overture Synod to:
1. Create a local option for Christian Reformed Church communities in the CRCNA
who wish to allow all LGBTQ+ Christians – either celibate, single, or in committed
same-sex relationships – to participate fully in the life of the church, including as
2. Correspondingly, remove the phrase “and homosexual sex” from the Synod 2022
decision (copied in italics, below) as it is at odds with a local option.

That synod affirm that ‘unchastity’ in the
Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 108 encompasses
adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex,
polyamory, pornography and homosexual sex, all
of which violate the Seventh Commandment. In
so doing, synod declares this affirmation ‘an
interpretation of [a] confession’ (Acts of Synod
1975, p.  603). Therefore, this interpretation has
confessional status.

3. Continue to critically and openly engage the Human Sexuality Report which
provided the theological framework for Synod’s deliberations. This, at the very
least, will require a more robust minority report written by a committee not
bound by the 1973 Synodical decision on homosexuality and open to a
diversity of Reformed scholarship.


1. While Fellowship CRC is not asking that all churches interpret the Scriptures and
Christian tradition as we do, we do ask that our church and others like ours be
given the freedom to minister to our community from a foundation of biblical
interpretation that does allow for same-sex intimacy within the covenant of
marriage. The very existence of a variety of robust biblical and theological
arguments for the inclusion of celibate and married LGBTQ+ Christians in the
church signals that there is not theological or pastoral consensus on this
topic. We are asking that the CRCNA recognize that the conclusions of the HSR
are but one interpretation of scripture, allowing for other interpretations. This
would give local congregations, like Fellowship CRC, the freedom to be open and
affirming of full participation by LGBTQ+ persons in the life and membership of
our congregation while still belonging to the covenant community of the CRCNA.
2. Pastoral care and community building with those in the LGBTQ+ community,
their families, and their allies, has been severely damaged by the decisions of
Synod 2022. Those churches who wish to offer genuine care and welcome to
LGBTQ+ Christians must have the local authority to do so with integrity.  Though
the pastoral care section of the HSR and the synodical discussion of the majority
report at Synod 2022 expressed a desire to be compassionate and welcoming, in
the end this desire seems by many to be incompatible with Synod’s conclusion
that LGBT people who are not celibate may not participate fully in the life of the
3. The HSR of 2022 did not engage robustly with theological understandings of
same-sex relationships that differ from those articulated in the report. A number
of prominent Reformed biblical scholars and theologians have provided
compelling arguments for the full inclusion of same-sex relationships in the
church.  The Classis Grand Rapids Study Report on Biblical and Theological
Support Currently Offered by Christian Proponents of Same-Sex Marriage
(January 2016) is a helpful summary of just some of these arguments. The HSR
relied on a definition of Reformed theology indebted to the notion of ‘the order of
creation’, a construct that is not unanimously accepted among Reformed
scholars, and which is absent in the theology of John Calvin himself. The
absence of careful engagement with these arguments and the apparent refusal
to engage with differing voices in a spirit of generosity and listening hampered
the discussion of the HSR at Synod 2022 by withholding the full spectrum of
Christian wisdom – Reformed and otherwise – on this vital topic.

Overture on Local Option and Continuing Study of HSR