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Female leadership in Christian Reformed Church still evolving

Becky Vargo • Nov 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM

There are about 100 female pastors in the North American Christian Reformed Church, according to one of the newest, the Rev. Laura DeJong, pastor of Second Christian Reformed in Grand Haven.

“We are a small contingent still,” said the May graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

DeJong said that women made up only about 30 percent of her graduating class, but she hasn’t had a problem being accepted as a pastor or fitting in with her contemporaries.

She is the first female pastor in the 135-year-history of the Grand Haven church.

Search committee members at Second CRC also said that women candidates were always included in their search.

The Christian Reformed Church of North America states, as its position, that all congregations may allow women to serve as minister, elder, deacon or commissioned pastor. 

“The CRC recognizes that there are two different perspectives and convictions on this issue, both of which honor the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God. Classes may also, in keeping with their understanding of the biblical position on the role of women in ecclesiastical office, declare that women office bearers may not be delegated to their classis. All duly elected and ordained office bearers — men and women — may be delegated to synod, but office bearers will not be asked to participate against their convictions on this matter.”

History

The Christian Reformed Church began dealing with the issue of women in leadership positions in 1970.

The first study committee reported to Synod in 1973 that excluding women from ecclesiastical office couldn’t be defended on biblical grounds. Another committee was appointed to study the matter and came to the same conclusion in 1975.

Two more committees were created and came back with reports in 1977 and 1978. One of the reports recommended that women be ordained as deacons.

Synod agreed, but changed direction in 1985.

Another committee again recommended, in 1990, that women be allowed to hold all offices, but the 1992 Synod declined to ratify the recommendation.

Women were first approved as candidates for the ministry of the Word in the CRC at Synod 1996.

In 2000, Synod also approved the appointment of women advisers to Synod. In 2001, Synod adopted guidelines for women advisers and included those in the Rules for Synodical Procedure.

Read the entire statement here: https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements/women-ecclesiastical-office-0

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