At its General Synod this summer, the Reformed Church in America, a Protestant denomination of more than 200,000 members with a significant Iowa presence, has the opportunity to make constitutional changes that would fully embrace gay and lesbian people in the church. Both the RCA and its more conservative cousin, the Christian Reformed Church, are descended from Dutch immigrants who settled first in New York in the 1600s and then migrated further west. Along with many congregations in Iowa, Central College in Pella and Northwestern College in Orange City are affiliated with the denomination.
Meeting June 9-14 in Palos Heights, Ill., delegates to the RCA’s synod will consider three amendments to its constitution. One resolution defines marriage as “between a man and a woman” and the other, contradictorily, defines marriage as “between two persons.” We’ll see which, if either, can win the two-thirds majority of delegates needed to pass. A third proposed amendment requires candidates for ministry to “affirm and embody” any changes to the marriage liturgy. This summer’s synod presents a defining moment for a church that has struggled to reconcile its interpretation of scripture with the lived experience of gay and lesbian people. But because of the high voting threshold required of amendments, it’s possible that the synod will adjourn leaving the issue still unresolved.
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