I apologize for my absence, friends. I confess to having run stuck on Overtures 3 & 4. Perhaps you have too?
Overtures 3 & 4 read like this:
“Therefore, Classis Grand Rapids North overtures Synod 2013 to direct the Board of Trustees to help establish a new classis in the Michigan area in accordance with Church Order Article 39. The purpose of this would be to create a classis in which churches whose convictions do not allow women to serve in the offices of the church to participate freely.”
“Classis Kalamazoo overtures Synod 2013 to direct the Board of Trustees to facilitate the establishment of a new classis in Michigan in accordance with Church Order Article 39 and to permit the transfer of Second CRC from Classis Kalamazoo to this new classis.”
(There is more to these proposals than that and I strongly urge you to read it for yourself – pages 398-406.)
You might easily see why a gal – a Reverend gal, no less – might get stuck here. No matter your opinion, most of us aren’t diffident in holding them or taciturn in voicing them. Let’s own that at the outset. These overtures seem likely to create a 2013 synod sensation.
With as objective a voice as possible – tantalizing polemics to follow in a few days – let’s look at the mechanics of these overtures. Reaching back for my college debate training, the initial prejudice always lies with the status quo, which is to say that Classis are regularly appointed according to geography and have never been previously created on the basis of a theological barrier or divide.
These overtures, therefore, must meet the burden of proof:
a. The current system (geographical Classis) is unable to meet the demand of the current situation
b. The proposed solution (a refugee Classis) is the best way of solving the problem.
They must do this in keeping – as they properly and good orderly noted – with Church Order Article 39. Church Order Article 39 states:
“A classis shall consist of a group of neighboring churches. The organizing of a new classis and the redistricting of classes require the approval of Synod.” (Manual of CRC Government; 2008)
An earlier version of the CRC Government Manual (2001) is quoted in Overture 3 to provide this further instruction:
“The desirability of organizing a new classis depends on the consideration of the number of families, the number of congregations, the geographical distances, the effectiveness of ministry and other factors.”
Therefore, these are the questions we must answer:
- Do classis seating women delegates irrevocably undermine the effective ministry of a) churches in that classis who do not hold a Biblical conviction that women ought to serve in their congregations or b) the classis as a whole?
- Conversely, does the self-imposed exile of such congregations from their classis irrevocably undermine the effective ministry of a) the classis as a whole or b) the congregations there represented?
- IF the case is made that this is a significant problem, THEN is the proposed refugee/affinity classis the best solution?
What do you think?