"GRAND RAPIDS -- History came quietly to the Christian Reformed Church on Tuesday night, but progress remains to be made.I saw this article linked yesterday in the Kruse Kronicle.
That was the feeling of longtime advocates of women's ordination who watched the CRC Synod remove the word 'male' from its requirements for church office.
After 37 years of back-and-forth struggle, delegates opened the way for women to become ministers in any of the CRC's 1,000-plus churches. If other proposed changes are approved as expected today, women also will be able to serve as delegates to the Synod for the first time. ..."
According to an article in today's Christian Post, women who are selected as delegates to Synod will be seated next year:
"... After debates broke out last year over the restriction of women from serving as synodical deputies (synod representatives) delegates at Synod 2007 – the eight-day meeting of the church's broadest assembly – decided to open for the first time the way for women to be delegates to next year's synod.
"Let’s take note, pause and reflect,” said Rev. Bruce Persenaire from Classis (regional assembly) Central California, according to CRC Communications. “We will now be seating women delegates."
The vote followed Tuesday's decision to remove the word "male" as a requirement for holding ecclesiastical office in the church and to allow women to be ordained as ministers, elders, deacons or ministry associates. In an effort to maintain unity in the church body by respecting the convictions of those who believe the Bible prohibits women serving as office bearers, synod representatives also decided to allow classes (regional assemblies) to set restrictions on women serving as delegates to classis meetings. ..."
One issue that this raises for the PC(USA) is that there have been few reformed denominations that recognize that both women and men are called to ministries in the Church. Many have therefore predicted that there would not be a mass exodus of Presbyterians as a result of real and imagined shortcomings of the PC(USA). This move by the Christian Reformed Church may have an effect on that dynamic.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has had "local option" for a few years now, but it is generally noted that few congregations have exercised that option. I suspect that the PC(USA) congregations that have already been dismissed to the EPC have more than doubled the number of ordained women in that denomination.
The Christian Reformed Church seems to have adopted "local option" as well, so its effect on any exodus from the PC(USA) may be minimal. In any case this is a positive move and I wish the CRC well as they embark on this path.