General Synod – Monday

I found a link that might be helpful if you don’t have time that allows you to look at recorded streaming.  Previous sessions can be viewed at the page at:

So this morning we picked up our business with bringing back a response to an overture from the New Brunswick Classis concerning the RCA’s position on reparative/rehabilitative therapy for gays and lesbians.  As a response to that overture, the RCA body which considered overture mad the following recommendation:

To declare that the RCA does not support the use of reorientation/reparative therapy.

My personal belief is that we should not only not support, but also recommend against that kind of therapy.  It is illegal now in California, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington DC.  There is a bill waiting to be signed by the Governor of Illinois to make it illegal.  Past practice for this kind of therapy has included partial lobotomy, chemical castration, and electric shock therapy.  In reviewing an asylum request the 9th Circuit Court has stated its opinion that in a foreign country the use of drugs and hypnotherapy constituted physical and mental torture.  I was tempted to do a Saturday Night Live parody and say “REALLY?”

Yet there was a strong movement on the floor of the General Synod to defeat this recommendation.  After much dispute, it was referred to a committee along with the decision to remove any links to this therapy that are present on the RCA web site.

I think I mentioned before that in my preparation for the Synod I thought many of the recommendations in the workbook were …. wise.  They didn’t make controversial decisions.  They did their best to keep everyone talking.  The made an effort to follow the rules and be fair.  This was not what I considered the right course of action, but it was the best we were going to get.

Next we went into judicial session where, among other issues, we considered a complaint against a synod and classis which had ordained a minister who was a Lesbian.  The recommendation was to deny the complaint because the classis and synod involved followed proper procedures and there was no evidence of any king that the minister in question was a “practicing” homosexual.

During this discussion I was surprised and pleased to see the Rev. John de Velder, brother-in-law of Joyce, rise to speak for the minister under discussion.


As with much of the other business, some delegates took every opportunity to turn this into a debate about homosexuality.  Eventually, an amendment was made that clarified that affirmation was only that procedure was followed.

Next up was the Commission on Theology.  The first item concerned the formation of a task force who’s responsibility would be to recommend diaconal bodies so that Deacons would be involved in service on a broader basis than just their local church.

The second item was a report on Human Sexuality.  Although I had questions about how homosexuals were portrayed in the report, the amended recommendation was to approve the report as a resource for future discussion.  Since there was no movement to discussion again of the gay marriage, gay sex issues, I let it go.

Next we went back to the President’s recommendation for a council to consider gay marriage.  Specifically there was much discussion about how to pay for the council.  An amendment to pay the costs of members attending the council would end up raising assessments over $2 per member and costs total about $350,000.   This passed. Total assessments will be voted on later tonight.


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