The Christian Reformed Church (CRC) will have another chance this year to clarify its confusing position on the ordination of women as ministers or elders. But whatever the 1993 synod may decide, some CRC congregations will be unhappy.

In recent months, several congregations have ordained women elders, based on a 1990 synodical decision that all church offices were open to women. Yet the synod, in 1992, issued a statement that rescinded the 1990 decision and adopted compromise language. Meanwhile, more than 30 conservative congregations have withdrawn from the CRC over the issue.

The debate over whether and how much the denomination will be open to women’s ordination may surface at the CRC’s next synod this June, and both camps have already begun drawing their battle lines.

Early warning signal

Late last year, the denomination’s top administrative body sent an early warning signal in support of the 1992 statement by reprimanding two high-profile officials for serving as chairmen of local church councils that have ordained women elders.

Synodical Interim Committee (SIC) general secretary Leonard Hofman and executive director of ministries Peter Borgdorff sent letters to Harvey Smit, editor in chief of the CRC education department and interim coeditor of The Banner, and Louis Tamminga, director of pastor-church relations. In the letters, Hofman and Borgdorff requested a written commitment from the two men to abide by Church Order and synodical decisions.

Tamminga resigned his position as council chairman at the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Church of the Servant—though his decision to resign had already been made and was for reasons unrelated to the reprimand.

Smit, who told Reformed Believers Press Service that his term as president of the ...

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