A Legacy of Inclusion

Today’s letter is from Rev. Susan Joy Huizenga Cleveland, an RCA Minister of Word and Sacrament, VA Chaplain, and ally with LGBTQIA family members. 

Dear Synod,

While you were meeting last week, I was quite distracted by taking care of my dying father.  I thought I was beyond caring what your bureaucratic body was talking about and creating decisions, but I was wrong.  Even after short nights of sleep I found a way to be vaguely in touch and found myself becoming quite alarmed at the woe emerging from FB postings.

While reflecting on his life, I’m amazed at the fact that my father, Nicholas Huizenga, age 90, a lover of Christ, the church, all things CRC and beyond (all traditions) never gave up on the difficult and frustrating process of controversial issues.  In the 60s and 70s he spoke out in both Chicago and Paterson NJ against the ‘white flight’ of the churches at the time, and he suffered for it.  In the 70s thru 90s he worked hard along with his wife, Joan Huizenga, and others, to convince the CRC to open all offices to women.  (Committee for Women in the CRC).  That took decades, you may recall.  He even personally contributed two daughters who became Ministers of Word and Sacrament, my sister, Ruth Everhart (PCUSA), and myself (RCA).  He took flak for his views but it didn’t stop him.  While serving as an elder in the past 15 years or so, he represented his church at Classis and was encouraged to read the available theological works on this topic of the Bible and sexual orientation.  I recall that he fully expected his traditional views to be affirmed.  However, he was surprised that he became convinced by the scholars who advocated for inclusion of LGBTQA in the body of Christ.  I distinctly recall him telling me that while the inclusive books were well written and documented,  the traditionalists books were rather sloppily argued.
His mind was sharp at 90.  He was willing to open his mind and consider that he may be moved by the Spirit to other views.

If you are not convinced by theological argument, and this all continues to be a power struggle and a numbers game, then I am truly sorry for the RCA at this moment.  However, like the waves crashing on the beach, there is constant motion and I hear a distant but growing drumbeat of justice mixed with love.  The future may seem bleak right now but I don’t accept it.  One year of poorly made decisions does not a denomination make.  I throw my vote with those who choose to affirm the full inclusion of LGBTQA persons in all churches, everywhere.  I am not leaving.  I risk being thrown out but I don’t worry very much because there are simply too many of us now.

“Although the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.”

Rev. Susan Joy Huizenga Cleveland
RCA Minister of Word and Sacrament
VA Chaplain

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