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More often than not, my week to write the blog comes around and I spend quite a bit of time wondering what on earth I’m going to write about this time.

But I’ve never felt so unable to write something as I do now.

As of this writing on Wednesday evening, the CRC Synod 2024 has:
– tightened the procedures around gravamen so that no office bearer can hold a settled conviction
contrary to anything in the confessions. Or at least they can’t object to anything relating to the CRC’s confessional interpretation on human sexuality. Apparently, baptism is still open to individual interpretation.
– told the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee to determine whether the RCA interprets the confessions in the same way the CRC does and, if not, whether we can remain a church in communion with the RCA.
-instructed churches to repent of any statement contradicting Synod 22’s definition of unchastity or begin a process of disaffiliation, to be completed within a year.
-placed all office-bearers from churches in non-compliance under limited suspension, effective Friday.
-instructed the board of Calvin University to develop language and processes in alignment with the CRC’s decisions regarding gravamen when considering the confessional difficulties of faculty.

Before this day is out, I anticipate that Synod will instruct classes to receive communications of protest about Synod 22’s decision re: confessional status – even if the protesting churches aren’t affirming – to be declarations of intent to disaffiliate unless the council retracts its protest.

None of this is terribly surprising to me. And yet it is incredibly difficult to wrap my head around the fact that this is actually happening, that within a year, this denomination will lose many of its churches, pastors, and congregants; that churches who have been desperately seeking to hold together and find a way forward in unity now have to decide whether to discipline office bearers or leave the denomination; that people who want to serve the church with honesty and integrity can no longer do so in the denomination in which many of them were baptized, raised, and ordained, regardless of their willingness to submit to the larger church’s authority.

I don’t know what to write about this. I don’t have coherent thoughts or a way to package this. For the last few days I’ve oscillated between resignation, anger, grief, fear, and a deep desire to start planning and strategizing in order to regain some control of what’s happening. I haven’t slept well. I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate.

I don’t know what to write about this. Perhaps the words will come, as will the peace and the assurance and even an eagerness to ask, “What now? What next?”

But today I’m just eating chocolates.

Laura de Jong

Laura de Jong is the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Community Christian Reformed Church in Kitchener, Ontario


  • Joan Koole says:

    Thank you for writing this. It’s so hard to put all this in words. I’m joining you in eating chocolate but adding a glass of wine. How do we tell our grandchildren?

  • Heidi De Jonge says:

    Love you, Laura. Thankful we’ll get to spend some time together next week (I trust there will be chocolate, right Jeff?).

  • Jeffrey Carpenter says:

    It’s all bad; it follows the logic, I suppose, but where did the issue about RCA ‘s confessional stance come from? From a different ballpark in a different city, not just left field. Wow.
    And will the Puritans stop with human sexuality? Certainly there’s more doctrinal purity to be had.
    I used to look forward to Sundays in anticipation of going to church; now there’s even more anxiety even as I’ve just finished my term as elder.
    Dark chocolate fan here; early a.m. dog-walking is my therapy (and it’s past time). :?)

    • June Huissen says:

      I think the ordained women in the CRC have a target on their backs.

      • Jan Heerspink says:

        Yes, June, and that includes any future ordained women who may never reach the point of ordination. Why would any young woman consider attending Calvin Seminary?

        • Kenneth Earl Kolk says:

          They should transfer to Western or New Brunswick Seminaries. The RCA has been ordaining women in 1973 and the 1979 General Synod ratified the proposed changes in the Book of Church Order opening the Ministry to women.

      • Jill Feikema says:

        yes, as confirmed by their recent podcasts … the target is now overturning the ordination and allowing women to be office bearers.

      • Jo-Ann Tipple says:


  • David Hoekema says:

    Words fail us. One always seeks to understand others’ perspectives, even across deep disagreements, but in this case I’m utterly baffled. I do understand why some followers of Jesus hesitate to affirm gay marriage as a precious and holy gift. Among many friends and colleagues in W and E Africa most were in this category. What I cannot fathom is the self-righteous and vindictive determination to rid the church of any who are not willing to renounce their considered convictions (and denounce some of their friends and children) in fidelity to a novel and implausible interpretation of a confessional phrase. To recall a saying from the Vietnam conflict, Synod has decided that the denomination must be destroyed in order to save it.

  • Peter Steensma says:

    Some use the image of the church as an estuary where salt water of the world and culture meets fresh water of the gospel. I always tended to think of that as an image of a reformed perspective, creating an ecosystem by engaging the world.

    I think the CRC has just said we are now a lake. I hope some stop by to visit.

  • Sara Pot says:

    Dark chocolate with cashews and a sprinkle of salt… in communion with you, SPot.

  • Sophie Vandenberg says:

    Same, Laura, same. Beyond words. Only chocolate will do.

  • Kris Swieringa says:

    None of this is surprising to me, but it does make me extremely sad. I basically left the denomination about a year ago after the 2023 decision. I feel for all the pastors, including my husband who are struggling with this most recent development. I am blessed to have found a home in the United Methodist Church

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Me too. I’m utterly baffled. I don’t understand them, how they went this far. Grieving for you and for so many, because of those real difficult choices up ahead that you point to. Hoping that this Ejection may be a Liberation, but still, I can’t understand the cold mechanical brutality. Like they feel they are required to do this for the Lord Jesus? They can’t see Jesus?

    • Jane Porter says:

      They can’t see Jesus.

    • Kenneth Earl Kolk says:

      Having been born and raised in 2nd CRC of Fremont, Mi and then attending and graduating from Calvin (C or U) I left the CRC and after joining and leaving a number of different denominations I ended up being a member of Martin Reformed Church while you father was our minister. My wife and I are now members of the 2nd Reformed Church (RCA) in Zeeland. I never thought much about the RCA Book of Church Order until this crisis happened. Now I thank God daily for the wisdom of our forefathers when they established this RCA “Constitution.” I thank God that we belong to a Reformed Church and that it is impossible for the members on one annual Synod to make changes to the BOCO during its meeting.

      I find it enlightening that Lord Jesus was opposed to the rigid adherence to the law of Moses’ Law and their extreme stress of “purity” of the believers by the Pharisees. What I think we are seeing in the acts of the CRC Synod 2024 is the take-over of a branch of Christ’s Church by modern Pharisees.

      Christ and the Apostles was built the Church on love, the acceptance of the gentiles as full members of the Church. This was a violation of the teachings of the Pharisees that only pious Jews could enter into the temple compound.

      Dan, you and I should thank God that we are members of the RCA and we should welcome the individuals, churches, and Classes into our fellowship where I’m sure they will feel at home.

      • Daniel Meeter says:

        Ken, my sister Ellyn remembers you. Yes, “I thank my God daily.” Pharisees indeed. Building fences around the the fences around the fences to protect the Law AND God’s chosen people. I hope classes Zeeland, Holland, and North Grand Rapids can develop a plan for welcome and refuge, with no strings attached.

  • Claudia Beversluis says:

    Thank you Laura. Enjoy the chocolates, but also please keep finding words and sharing them with us. We are going to need you and the Reformed Journal more than ever, as we hang on to what is precious in our reformed tradition. Especially as the new anal CRC seems bent on destroying this legacy.

  • Jon Pott says:

    What an intellectual cost this synod threatens to exact, longer and shorter term, on a Calvin University so respected and appreciated by many graduates and beyond.

    • Tim Van Deelen says:

      Agree. I am deeply concerned for friends and collogues and the betrayal their LGBT+ students must feel.

    • Kenneth Earl Kolk says:

      I read an article after last year’s CRC Synod actions in a secular national publication that the 23 Synod had told the faculty of CU to polish up their resumes. As I understand the 24 Synod rulings was giving the highly respected faculty of CU to either comply or to find a new position within 3 years. My wife and I are graduates of CU who have been loyal donors. We are going to have to re-evaluate our future donations. We are “small fry”, but I suspect that there are big donors who are also re-evaluating their giving.

  • Diane Dykgraaf says:

    It is a hard place. A few beautiful things happened at synod (I am here) this year that may not get noticed. Susan LaClear spoke so powerfully and gracefully Tuesday morning before the presentation of the candidates. Listen to it if you haven’t already. And Wednesday afternoon the body recognized and thanked Lain Martinez Vasquez (many even stood in ovation) who is a youth advisor from my classis. She identifies as queer and wrote a thoughtful overture to this synod. Lain is strong, gentle, and loves Jesus. I believe it was seen and recognized here this week. So two women…brought synod to it’s feet this week.

    • Joyce Looman Kiel says:

      Thank you for this Good News!

    • Jan Heerspink says:

      I only wish they had brought synod to its knees.

    • Jan Heerspink says:

      I only wish these two women had brought synod to its knees.

    • Kenneth Earl Kolk says:

      Yet, the same Synod gave your classis a choice that either you remove her from office or you will have to leave the CRC?

      • Diane Dykgraaf says:

        Yes, Ken. I wake up this morning (Friday) after sitting through synod again (something I used to love) and the deep sadness experienced yesterday, realizing that Abide has successfully shut down all opposition- they’ve either suspended or put under discipline all who think differently than them. And while they say they good sounding things about filing gravamen, there is no bringing it back next year-it is the end of discussion. The CRC as we knew it is gone. Sad. But I am looking to see what God will raise up out of the ashes. There are many, many good people on the ash heap right now.

  • Ken Agema says:

    So incredibly mournful and so destructive. I now belong to the Presbyterian Church having left the CRC a number of years ago. However these are still my roots and I am feeling uprooted.

    • Lois Roelofs says:

      Ken, my roots too and now my feelings exactly. Thankfully, I’m now a member of the Presbyterian Church USA. We spend our time loving others, not building walls.

  • Dirk Jan Kramer says:

    Reflective, I think, of the contentious times politically, not just ecclesiastically, in which we live. I find it revealing when you compare 2020 voter data in the Midwest to the number of RCA congregations there who opted to leave the denomination.

  • Ken Baker says:

    Thank you, Laura. And please pass the box.

  • Noreen Vander Wal says:

    So many angles of this that are upsetting. I am in my last few weeks of serving on my church’s Council. We have a hard time finding people who will allow their name to stand for Council positions. I know other churches are struggling with that as well. Who can serve, when we have to agree with every confessional point unequivocally? Unity does not equal intellectual cookie cutting. This confessional purging is nonsense. Sad nonsense.

  • Phyllis Roelofs says:

    Thanks Laura, Snickers are my go to. However, yesterday I did laundry while watching Synod as I felt like I needed a cleansing ritual. I folded it all in good order with corners matching, separated it into little owners’ piles for different resting places, sort of like creeds and confessions, and finally contemplated that I had done a remarkable job and all was in good order.

  • Jack Ridl says:

    Jesus wept.

    I read the journal thanking God that i don’t, can’t belong with you. Wish I could, but I would be tossed to the side of the road.

  • Doug says:

    I’m always curious about the language church bodies use in these situations. “Disaffiliation” seems to tame, gentle, like a treatment I might choose next time I’m at the spa. My favorite is still “gracious separation” which my Presbyterian friends chose a few years ago. As you can imagine, it was usually anything but gracious. Thank you, Laura.

  • Jan Zuidema says:

    I, like you, find it hard to find words. In my darkest moments during this past year I had hoped the Lord would raise up so much dissension that it would swamp this tide of self-righteous ‘I know what every word in the Bible means and, and we’ve got the numbers, so there’s the door’. Alas, there was no miracle and now those of us who have such deep ties are left to decide between a congregation we love versus limited membership.

  • James C Dekker says:

    Thanks much, Laura. I’m scheduled to offer the cong prayer Sunday at Jube–your home church. This whole business is so painful.

    Michael Brummel posted in CRC Pastors FB, “My heart rejoices.” Not sure yet if I’ll post this following rant there: “Why? Because now the CRC will be purer than ever? Do not delude yourself. How long will it take for women pastors to be banned? What will happen to the ecumenical witness of World Renew (though it is not Christian Reformed and has never been “owned” by the church)? What about Calvin? Is it good that it’s academic standing and reputation will be hugely diminished if it loses (or if they are forced out) staff and instructors who must now be placed into thought-strait jackets? Will Resonate survive? What about its staff? Will denominational staff be required to be compliant? How will the agencies and support staff of the denom survive, if they are gutted? Do the Abide folks believe they can find competent administrators/managers to replace those who leave or are forced out? How many millions of dollars will there be spent on legal fees for dismissals and severances? How many millions of dollars will be lost because churches that have donated devotedly and faithfully to ministry shares–with gifts far-exceeding many of the smaller classes–leave or are “disaffiliated”? Btw, “disaffiliation” is supposed to be a congregation’s voluntary decision, but with the new rules instituted yesterday, “disaffiliation” sounds an awful lot like mass excommunication of quite a number of congregations, pastors, elders, deacons and members. I sincerely wonder if such costs (which are not merely physical, but with deep spiritual resonance) have been counted or if winning a pyrrhic victory was the intent from the start.”

  • RZ says:

    Power corrupts. Absolute power (zealotry) corrupts absolutely. We see the progression.
    We went from a 70-30 vote to a complete purging initiative. Many denominations have exhibited much dysfunction in their process of dividing. The CRC seems dedicated to winning the first place trophy. Regardless of one’s position on THE issue, it is certain that history will judge the process itself to be corrupt.

  • Marie says:

    Thanks for this, Laura. I did not want to spend time this week following the goings-on of synod. And you got me all caught up in 3 minutes. I am going to spend some time in the garden this morning. Plants give oxygen, nutrition, and beauty to anyone, regardless of who they are or what they believe. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why God compares people to plants so often in the Bible.

  • Joyce Looman Kiel says:

    As Valerie Van Kooten reminds us in her previous RJ post Evensong Thoughts
    But they kept meeting. Every evening at 5:30 pm they gathered, whether there were many or few, to thank God for the day behind them and to ask for protection for the night ahead, a continuum that can help us keep our collective head above troubled waters.
    Indeed, it may be the only weapon we have.

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    I (in the RCA) feel like a West German with relatives in East Germany.

    • David Hoekema says:

      An interesting and rich analogy. As JFK put it so memorably in 1963, decades before the wall came down: “Ich bin ein Berliner!” (Which means “I am a cream-filled pastry” — he should have said “Ich bin Berliner!”)

    • Kenneth Earl Kolk says:

      We need to be ready to welcome our brothers and sisters into the RCA. The CRC left the RCA in 1857 and the RCA has always been open to welcoming them back. However, the RCA has become a multicultural and an international church. Watching the RCA Synod 24, I have become convinced that “amicable separation” we have experienced in the past three years was God ordained and will actually make our witness stroger.

  • Dr. James C Schaap says:

    I determined, yesterday, that it wasn’t at all good for my soul or heart to listen in to another moment of the goings on, so I didn’t. That was yesterday. Given the news, not listening may have been a mistake. Today is worse. Dark and dreary, a thick gray sky lays outside my window and in my heart. Pass the chocolates.

    • James C Dekker says:

      Nor did I watch, Jim, not a minute. It was all so predictable, since the offices were elect, two on first ballot—unheard of. But the Wednesday Massacre still took my breath away and has left me enervated today. I’ve not submitted a gravamen, so nothing’s on record. Plenty know my thoughts, though. Might be an honour to be suspended and eventually dismissed/released from ministry, but goodness, it still hurts and I don’t feel the least bit relieved.

      • Debra Rienstra says:

        I think the “Wednesday Massacre” is how this event should be known from now on.

        • Nicole Van de Kraats says:

          I wonder what we should call Thursday, then?
          -A member “entered into discipline” for communicating her protest

      • Henry Baron says:

        I watched sporadically. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but it helped me to sense that most of those who chose to speak, on both sides of the issues, spoke from the heart, though the sides differed: law and obedience as a starting point vs. love and acceptance. Law and compliance leads to abuse of power. And that can result in a “Wednesday Massacre.”

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    I thought, maybe they could resist, altogether refuse to be “disaffiliated”, keep voting, keep showing up at COD, boards meetings, and even Synod, wear yellow Stars of David, sit in the front of the bus, sit at the lunch counter, do non-violent action like Gandhi and MLK, disregard all the decisions of this Synod, etc. But then I realized that people are tired of this, and want just to move on.

  • Henry Baron says:

    Our minds were expecting this; our hearts were yearning for the Spirit’s intervention.
    Now our souls are reeling.
    A time to accept Jesus’ gracious invitation: “Come unto me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

  • Steven Tryon says:

    A good day for a beer.

  • Kathy says:

    Is there a list of CRC congregations who are welcoming congregations? Or is there a way to find out if the one I am considering attending a welcoming congregation?

  • Dennis Holtrop says:

    Thanks, Laura.

    CRC women (most of them, anyway) are among the wisest and best people I know. This has been consistently borne out, but especially this week at Synod.

    I’m off to the movies (double feature!).

    Tomorrow will be a new day.

  • Ron Mulder says:

    Maybe the CRC experiment was flawed from the very beginning in the 1860’s? Imagine the gall of naming your denomination the “Christian” Reformed Church while separating from your former brothers and sisters in the Reformed Church in America. Using church purity as a charade for a selective narrow reading of the scriptures while ignoring others is out of bounds from the spirit of Jesus’ teaching. Most of these purges seem silly 20 years later, but CRC continues to stumble predictably into the same morass. The flaw may be in the CRC’s DNA.

  • Norman VanSpronsen says:

    While I am not now a member, in 1957 my father sat with me and read to me I Will Build My Church, the history published to mark the centennial of the denomination. And my farmer dad, son of farmers, read it proudly! In this 21st century one of my nephews became your leader. Dad would have been proud (in the proper reserved Calvinistic way however.)

    Seems now we mark the end of an era. Farewell to many dreams

  • James Hart Brumm says:

    As a brother in the RCA all my life, with so many dear family in Christ in the CRC, I am weeping with you today. Let us know what we can do to help, if anything. Until then, we sit in the dust and ash with you.

  • woodnshoe says:

    i reached for the carton of ice cream — pass the chocolates amen…I. wanted to eat something salty and fattening after synod finished its blood bath. and they ended so amicably? so sad. may i grieve with any person who is in classis minnkota or classis illiana that is gay affirming of IS queer. where do these people go with their hidden secrets? nowhere… there is nowhere for them to go.

  • Joelle says:

    I’m so sorry,
    I don’t mean to sound ignorant, but what does all that mean? There was alot of, for lack of a better word, formal language around the new laws in the CRC Church and I can’t make heads or tales of it.

    May I ask for someone to explain it a little clearer please? I’m sorry to be a bother.


    • George Monsma, Jr. says:

      It means many things, some yet to be clarified. But among other things it clearly means that there is no room in the CRCNA for congregations, officebearers (pastors, elders, deacons), and perhaps even lay members who don’t believe that same-sex marriage and sexual relations within such marriages are sinful. Officebearers that hold such positions, or even protest against requiring belief in them are to be suspended from office if they don’t publicly repent or leave the CRC within a year (or possibly two if they are making progress toward one of those two ends), and in the meantime they can’t be delegates to classis or synod or boards of denominational agencies. If a congregation which has made such a statement doesn’t repent or leave within the same time period, their council is to be suspended and the council of a neighboring church given control of congregation. Faculty of Calvin University and Calvin Seminary will be subject to similar conditions.

  • Sylvan Gerritsma says:

    When I was young, Senator Joe McCarthy was doing approximately the political equivalent of what Abide is doing ecclesiastically today. Now McCarthyism is a filthy epithet. It’s not great comfort today, but will Abide be foul language sixty years from now?

  • Judy Hardy says:

    No surprises at synod this week. Why then did it still hurt so much to witness the utter certainty with which speaker after speaker urged the crc to “discipline” all those who hold space for different interpretations of human sexuality than the one it so recently mandated as “confessional”? As I am installed as an elder at my church this Sunday, I’ll hold both grief and gladness, knowing that the kingdom of God is so much bigger than any denomination.

    • Julia Smith says:

      Dear Judy, I’m so glad you will be an elder at Eastern at such an important time in our history! And glad our church and many others will soon no longer be subject to the bullying shenanigans of Abide.

      As many others have said, it’s hard to process all the conflicting emotions this week has brought. I fear for Calvin. I am angry that the Abide bros are driving their own queer children even further into closeted trauma. And gob-smacked that they can’t see the danger in the precedent they have set – for absolute adherence to every jot and tittle of the confessions, plus whatever any given synod declares has confessional status.

  • Steve says:

    Reading the comments above, the prevailing thought seems to be that it’s no problem at all to profess Christian faith while willfully continuing to live in sin.
    Is that accurate?

    • Henry Baron says:

      No, that is far from accurate. At the bottom of all this is the conflict in interpretation: all homosexual acts are sinful vs. same-sex expression of a loving relationship between persons of faith is not sin.

    • David Bouwsma says:

      The difference could also be stated that Faith in Jesus is trusting that His salvation is not dependent on any of our works in the flesh. Idolatry (a sin) would be trusting your salvation is predicated on having a correct view of doctrine.

  • meine Visser says:

    Dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt.

  • Herm De Vries says:

    I’m with you, Laura: no words. Thank you for expressing so well where many of us are at.

  • Charles Veenstra says:

    After reading many articles and books on the issues surrounding the HSR, I listened to all of the Synod’s plenary sessions that were available online for the last 3 years. Then I read this article and all the responses—almost all of which are negative about Synod 2024. If you had listened to all the plenary discussions of Synod 2024, you may have softened your approach. Some of those opposed to the direction of Synod spoke graciously about how they were treated. I observed a great concern for all sides. If you had watched and listened carefully, I think you would not use pejorative terms like “blood bath,” “Wednesday massacre,” “anal CRC” and equating the Abide group with McCarthyism. This name-calling hurts.

  • Jessica Rienstra says:

    I haven’t been part of the CRC for about 20 years, but knowing my children aren’t welcome (and I’m not welcome because I support and love them) in the church I grew up in is heartbreaking. I really worry about all the LGBTQ kids in the CRC.

    • Bree says:

      Your kids are welcome in the CRC. They just can’t be an office bearer. I can’t be an office bearer because I don’t think it is biblical for women to serve as elders and pastors. I know, this will make others upset. I love what Christopher Yuan’s mission statement is, Be Holy as I am Holy. The CRC needs a Jesus Revival!

  • The Plan

    “Peter, I have prayed for you,”
    Our Lord and Master said.
    “I know your faith will falter
    When you see me lying dead.”

    “Disciple mine, I have a plan!
    My death is not in vain.
    Despite the pain and misery
    My purpose will remain.”

    Then Jesus died, but rose again!
    Now seated at God’s side,
    He’s praying still, for you and me
    When hopes and dreams have died.

    So let us come before God’s throne
    And strength and grace receive.
    He knows our pain; He has a plan.
    Lament, and still believe!

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