June 22, 2022
The end of June has arrived with astonishing speed; a time when we often focus on the end of a school year, graduations and anticipate times of summer rest and relaxation. It has been good this year to be able to celebrate milestones together, and to hear plans of travel that have been delayed for the past two years.
However, not all the attention of the church has been focused on the easy time of summer. Many in the congregation are aware of Synod’s decision last week regarding the Human Sexuality Report. As pastors and council leadership, we felt it important to communicate what Synod decided, and what the next steps are for West End.
Last week Synod recommended the Human Sexuality Report to CRCs as “a useful summary of biblical teaching” on human sexuality. They also affirmed that the definition of the term “unchastity” in Q & A 108 of the Heidelberg Catechism “encompasses adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, polyamory, pornography and homosexual sex, all of which violate the seventh commandment. ”More communication with the exact decisions and their wording, to possibly clarify some of what this means, and to summarize the decision’s impact on ordained staff and office bearers in the church is expected to come out in the middle to end of July. Council will be meeting to review this for West End specifically.
There is much emotion associated with this decision, and we are aware that there are those in the congregation who are thankful while others are grieved by Synod’s decision, and many are not certain where exactly where they stand on the entirety of the decision. And all of us feel the weight of what this means for the future of our congregation and denomination. Wherever you may be at personally, as leadership we urge the congregation to allow time for us to consider how we can move through the next weeks and months together as community. We need all voices to be part of the conversation; our prayer is that everyone will feel able to contribute to discussions. We invite you to contact your pastoral elder if you have questions and concerns, recognizing that complete answers will not be available yet. In the meantime, as we pray and reflect, we welcome suggestions and thoughts of how we might move forward together as a congregation.
The past two years have been full of challenge and uncertainty. During this we always find hope in our Lord, and in the knowledge that our future is in His hands. We encourage the congregation to pray for grace for each other and as council we covet your prayers in the challenging work that lies ahead. The words of Ephesians 3:16-20 are at times used as a blessing in our worship services, and they speak well to us today:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches [God] may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Pastor Henry Kranenburg, Pastor Lisa Vanderleek, Michelle Rooker