This letter is part of the series, #WeAretheRCA. The author, a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the RCA, has chosen to remain anonymous. If you are an LGBTQ+ person or ally who has been affected by the recent decisions of General Synod 2016, I welcome letter submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. The letters will be posted one per day until General Synod 2017, and plans are in the works to create a collective art piece for display at that time.
Dear General Synod,
Home is something we all crave, home is special, no matter where home is. Home is where we know we belong. It should be where we are loved and supported for who we are. As I look back on my life, I think it is marked by a desire to know where I belong. I did not grow up in the RCA. No one from my family has ever been or is a current member of an RCA church. My faith journey runs through various denominations and faith traditions. My love for and call to ministry came during my 20’s. This call empowered me to eventually attend Western Theological Seminary to earn my M.Div. Attending WTS was my first venture into the world of the Reformed Church in America. Through this long process, and believe me it was long, the undergirding questions continued to be: Where is home? Where do I belong?
In my short time as a part of the RCA, I have come to appreciate the history of the denomination. The deep roots it has in our country and the communities in which our churches are located. I thoroughly enjoy the Reformed approach to theology. I have always felt free to wonder about Scripture and about God’s interaction with creation. While there are guidelines (Creeds and Confessions), there is lots of room to explore within those guidelines. One of my favorite professors compared theology to a sandbox, there are borders but there’s a lot of room to play within those borders. During General Synod I found myself concerned about the lack of openness to the complexity of Scripture as well as our own understanding of human sexuality. Scripture was often used more as a weapon than the story of God’s grace that we can all enter into.
I have also come to appreciate the polity of the RCA. As someone new to it, I have had my moments of frustration. There have been times when I’ve seen the BCO as too wooden, lacking the flexibility that I desire. But as I have engaged more and more with the BCO, I have found joy in the structure it provides. The actions at General Synod 2016 concern me because I sense, like many others do, that there could be a shift in how we operate as a denomination. I was in shock that so many delegates at General Synod did not seem to have an understanding of the RCA’s polity. The wonderful thing about the polity we have is that majority of power rests in the two “local” bodies of classis and consistory. We are not a hierarchical denomination, nor should we be. We can exist together while disagreeing on issues, even at those local levels.
In the aftermath of General Synod, several colleagues have expressed a desire to leave the denomination. I have even pondered this question myself. I have no deep roots in this particular body of Christians. In some ways this might make it incredibly easy for me to leave the denomination. But I don’t want to leave, I don’t plan to leave. I have found a home in the RCA. It grieves me that so many who have deep roots in the RCA are being told that they don’t have a home here. That they are not enough as they are to be fully included members of this family because of their sexual orientation. As a minister, I want to support my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. I want them to know that they do belong, and that they are loved. As classes meet to discuss the actions of General Synod, my hope is that in the year ahead we can begin to see that there is indeed room for all.
A minister of Word and Sacrament