On April 27, 2014, University Reformed Church (URC) voted 282-9 in favor of leaving the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and affiliating with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

The following Wednesday, the consistory of URC voted unanimously (14-0) to file a petition with the Classis of South Grand Rapids that we might leave the RCA with all our real and personal property and join the Presbytery of the Great Lakes in the PCA.

For the past three years, our church has wrestled with our place in the Reformed Church in America. We have prayed, studied, strategized, spoke, listened, prayed, asked questions, explored options, tried to discern what is in the best interest of the Kingdom, and prayed some more. We did not come to this decision lightly.

And this decision on our part does not mean that we have already left the RCA. Now that our petition has been filed, we will enter into a formal process with the classis—a series of meetings and reports which will take place over the next 6-8 months, as spelled out in detail by our Book of Church Order. We anticipate a final vote on our petition sometime in the first part of 2015.

Perhaps at a later date I will be able to share our 39-page petition for withdrawal. But for now the process is one that needs to take place between our church and the classis, not by blogs and in the public eye. Let me simply say at this point that our reason for seeking to leave the RCA is not one thing, but many things. From the adoption of the Belhar Confession, to the removal of the conscience clauses related to women’s ordination, to the growing acceptance of homosexual practice in the denomination, we believe the RCA has changed significantly in the last several years. The denomination has moved away from churches like ours. Our request is that we may be able to move too.

We are hopeful that our brothers and sisters in the classis will conduct a fair process and seek with us “how Christ’s Kingdom may best be served in this matter” (BCO 1.II.7.19b).

Thanks in advance for your prayers.

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129 thoughts on “University Reformed Church Votes to Leave the RCA”

  1. ralph acerno says:

    . There is one who will judge. If my interpretation of is wrong the Lord will correct me. If you’re interpretation of is wrong the Lord according to Paul will condemn you. I hope you meditate on that as you enjoy your gay relationship.

  2. lee sandro says:

    Have been reading these posts, and as an elder in the RCA, find it difficult to understand How anyone can except that the gay lifestyle is exceptable. In all of this though, and it has been suggested, that we are missing the more basic issue, and that all of this stems from our fallen and sinful nature. We are all sinful, sinful by our very nature. We cannot help but do otherwise. It is only through christs work on the cross, that we have any hope at all. Maybe I am being simplisic over the whole thing, but it would see to me that is where we need to start thus convsation from.

  3. 8thday,
    Happy to help with the explanation about the denominations. I appreciate your boldness and candor in this forum. If ever you’d wish to have a conversation away from apart from this brood of vipers, I believe you can click on my name above and follow the link to my personal website/blog and there is an email link. I wish you love, fulfillment and peace.
    Towards Shalom,
    Wayne

  4. 8thday says:

    To Rev Acerno, you judge people you don’t even know, you are divorced and for that you will get “corrected?” I have lived in a monogamous, long term loving relationship and for that I get condemned? Wow, why do you get off so easy? I know you said Paul made up my punishment. Who made up yours?

    lee sandro – I would love to know what exactly the “gay lifestyle” is. I have seen straight people use this term often but have no idea what they mean. My lifestyle is working hard to support my family (my daughters are in college) volunteering, doing laundry and grocery shopping, etc. What is your heterosexual lifestyle?

    To Wayne Bowerman – I will check your blog , hopefully tomorrow. For the record however, I do not consider these people a brood of vipers. I think they are extremely privileged people who are frightened that their world is changing. Their arrogance, ignorance and bigotry is no longer acceptable and their churches are dying because of it. I feel sorry for them.

  5. Reading This says:

    It’s almost hilarious reading the divorced reverend rant about sex sins.
    50+% of marriages (“Sacred” institution, don’t ‘ya know!) end in divorce. Since you’re in every one else’s bed, perhaps you could point out for us all what went wrong in your marriage?
    10% of the population is gay. Maybe you should start bullying your own crowd?
    A bully. You rant and rail about someone a little different (no more sinful!) than you. Unloving, disparaging comments slew at God’s children.
    I’ll stand up for all the young (and old) people going through mental hell because of people like you.
    What’s the fascination with 10% of the population? It’s funny how the staunchest opponents of homosexuality are in fact… never mind, I won’t go there.
    I left a reformed church for this incessant homosexual obsession. Thank you, hypocrites!
    You look deranged to outsiders. No modern person outside of the reformed tradition would consider these churches. Young people are leaving and aren’t breeding. The clan-club is dying.
    I might not have as much grace, knowledge, or tact as those in Room For All (RCA) or All One Body (CRC), but I’m here to wipe the tear away from any young person’s face after reading some of the comments above. No one would choose this.
    Don’t be jealous, hater!

  6. ralph acerno says:

    Again I find it interesting that while all of those affirming this perversion argue so emotionally but no one does so Biblically. I am the messenger not the author of the Bible.. So let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 carefully and tell me how I am supposed to read Pau’ls warning unrepentant homesexual lifestyles having no place in the kingdom of God.

  7. ralph acerno says:

    Instead of dealing with this issue purely emotionally shouldn’t we deal with it Biblically? Will you tell me how you interpret 1 Corinthians 6:9-11? That’s a good place to begin. So tell me how you justify your gay lifestyle in light of this and how you are assured of God’s acceptance of it when we are told here the opposite. No hysterics. no name calling. Just explain the passage as you understand it.

  8. Reading This says:

    Oh Reverend. You left out the best part of the passage! “But you are washed, sanctified, justified!” Why are you only picking on homosexuals out all those sins listed? When’s the last time you preached an online sermon about GREED that’s listed there? “Perversion” is your verbiage, Reverend!

  9. Reading This says:

    This just in: REFORMED CHURCH SPLITS OVER “GREED” ISSUE! We don’t want none of those kind here!

  10. ralph acerno says:

    Those justified in the text are clearly those who had repented of those acts of immorality…Paul puts their lifestyles in the past tense “and such were (not are) of you” In other words they repented. I see nothing here (do you) of continuing those lifestyles? The warning is to those who continue to live that way , that they will not inherit the kingdom. Let’s at least try to seriously interpret this passage vs name calling and jeering like children. Your problem is Paul here-not me.

  11. Reading This says:

    Ralph – don’t mince my words. I never said they were unrepentant. And who are you to judge? I will no longer call you Reverend, as you clearly even don’t. And I will no longer reply to your nonsense.
    *Searches Internet for reformed blogs on sin of greed mentioned by Ralph…………………….searching……………searching…….*

  12. lee sandro says:

    To begin with, I never used the term, gay lifestyle, so what does that have to do with what I wait saying. I am a single, celebate striaght male. Supporting myself.
    That still does not change the fact, tha we are all sinful, regardless what the sin is and only through Christ’s work on the cross, is there any hope for any of us.

  13. lee sandro says:

    I stand corrected, I did use the term gay lifestyle, but that still does not chane the fact that even as people of faith, we are still sufferin the residule effects of sin, no matter what the sin is, and if you were to make a list of sinners, feel free to put me at the top. Christians are not perfect just forgiven.

  14. ralph acerno says:

    I am not judging. I am quoting 1 Corinthians 6 and asking all of you to explain it since he says some “were” gay not “are”. I am not judging . I am using the bible here and the bible itself is judging. my call is to teach it. Callimg me names is easy. Following the word is the issue here. So explain.

  15. 8thday says:

    Rev Acerno – From what I could find, Paul was referring to adults who used young men for the prostitution (Sodomites) He did not single out homosexuality but referred to it within a list of other acts that were accepted as idolatrous. Many scholars say he was warning about any actions that will lead to sexuality becoming idolatrous – i.e. people seeking their ultimate joy and meaning in sexuality per se. I suppose people could argue this ad nauseum. And do.

    So to answer your question – do I think there are things in the Bible that say frivolous homosexual (and hetereosexual) acts are sinful. Yes I do. Do I think that my faithful relationship is sinful? No I don’t. And as I said, if I am wrong, I trust that God will understand what is in my heart. I believe that I was born gay and I trust that God knows exactly who I am and exactly what my intentions are. And if I am wrong about that – I will at least know that I have lived a life of love and that I hurt no one by my love – except if you are right, I have hurt myself. I suppose if your God wants to condemn me for that, I will have to accept that.

    Now will you answer my questions?

    – Why is it that you only get corrected for your sins while I get condemned?

    – Do you preach equally as strong about the sin of divorce? Surely not everyone in your congregation has an “excusable” divorce. How about using the name of the Lord in vain? Do you tell people who say “Jesus Christ” as a curse they are condemned? Isn’t that one of the big 10? How about being rich? Surely the Bible is clear that the rich will not enter heaven? I’ll bet you’re not shaming the rich people out of your churches.

    You say that you do not judge and don’t want to be called names? What are you doing when you write – Room for all, that perverted group … an abomination that should be dismissed from the RCA and not even allowed to demonstrate on the holy grounds of our denomination. Pastors who support it should be admonished and if need be removed.

    Yeah, no judgement or name calling there.

    You may think you have the absolute correct interpretation of Corinthians. I am beginning to understand the meaning of Matthew 23:13 – But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

    In the end it matters little what you think of my “lifestyle” or what I think of your hypocrisy and obsession. I live by the Ten Commandments and then that other big one Jesus mentioned – Love. There is no doubt that I fail, and fail often in that Love commandment. But it is what I aim for, everyday. After that I will have to rely on people’s forgiveness and God’s mercy.

    This post began as a statement about one RCA church leaving because they believe the RCA is moving in a direction they do not believe in. I respect them for that. While other churches move toward social justice -something I think Jesus strongly supported – other churches are clinging to their misogynist and bigoted beliefs that they say are supported by the Bible, much like slavery was once defended Who’s right and who’s wrong? Only God knows. But I think the odds, as supported by the life of Christ, are in my favor.

    From what I could find, Paul was referring to adults who used young men for the prostitution (Sodomites) He did not single out homosexuality but referred to it within a list of other acts that were accepted as idolatrous. Many scholars say he was warning about any actions that will lead to sexuality becoming idolatrous – i.e. people seeking their ultimate joy and meaning in sexuality per se. I suppose people could argue this ad nauseum. And do.

    So to answer your question – do I think there are things in the Bible that say frivolous homosexual (and hetereosexual) acts are sinful. Yes I do. Do I think that my faithful relationship is sinful? No I don’t. And as I said, if I am wrong, I trust that God will understand what is in my heart. I believe that I was born gay and I trust that God knows exactly who I am and exactly what my intentions are. And if I am wrong about that – I will at least know that I have lived a life of love and that I hurt no one by my love – except if you are right, I have hurt myself. I suppose if your God wants to condemn me for that, I will have to accept that.

    Now will you answer my questions?

    – Why is it that you only get corrected for your sins while I get condemned?

    – Do you preach equally as strong about the sin of divorce? Surely not everyone in your congregation has an “excusable” divorce. How about using the name of the Lord in vain? Do you tell people who say “Jesus Christ” as a curse they are condemned? Isn’t that one of the big 10? How about being rich? Surely the Bible is clear that the rich will not enter heaven? I’ll bet you’re not shaming the rich people out of your churches.

    You say that you do not judge and don’t want to be called names? What are you doing when you write – Room for all, that perverted group … an abomination that should be dismissed from the RCA and not even allowed to demonstrate on the holy grounds of our denomination. Pastors who support it should be admonished and if need be removed.

    Yeah, no judgement or name calling there.

    You may think you have the absolute correct interpretation of Corinthians. I am beginning to understand the meaning of Matthew 23:13 – But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

    In the end it matters little what you think of my “lifestyle” or what I think of your hypocrisy and obsession. I live by the Ten Commandments and then that other big one Jesus mentioned – Love. There is no doubt that I fail, and fail often in that Love commandment. But it is what I aim for, everyday. After that I will have to rely on people’s forgiveness and God’s mercy.

    This post began as a statement about one RCA church leaving because they believe the RCA is moving in a direction they do not believe in. I respect them for that. While other churches move toward social justice -something I think Jesus strongly supported – other churches are clinging to their misogynist and bigoted beliefs that they say are supported by the Bible. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Only God knows. But I think the odds, as supported by the life of Christ, are in my favor.

  16. 8thday says:

    Sorry about the double comment.

    To lee sandro – You clearly said a gay lifestyle is not acceptable. I have no idea what a gay lifestyle is, although you apparently do. Could you please define both a gay lifestyle for me. And then define heterosexual lifestyle?

    Since everyone seems so upset about this gay “lifestyle” I think we should all understand what it is we are talking about.

  17. ralph acerno says:

    Thanks for the time spent replying. No. Scholars who teach paul was speaking of men who have sex with small boys in 1 cor 6 are certainly a small minority. for 2000 years the church never interpreted that way and I will tell you why. paul as a jew saw any act of homosexuality be it lesbians or any gay lifestyle as immoral . that runs throughout his teachings. Jesus saw the only sexual relationship within the bounds of marriage of a man and woman-matthew 19. These people who teach that paul was ok with gays except men having with boys have to do a lot of straining to make the passage of 1 cor 6 fir that for paul included homosexuality to include lesbians as well-romans 1:18-25.

    When I said I will be corrected and gays who will be condemned I am speaking about the terrible warning and consequences of living a lifestyle I see in I cor 6 as one that prevents you from heaven. I have a lot of compassion of gays who struggle with this sin but I am not at all in agreement with these false rca groups like room for all who pervert the bible to celebrate what is clearly against scripture. in just a few decades we have overturned centuries of what was seen as a sad perversion into a celebration. scripture says in the last days people will turn to doctrines of demons. to undermine and change the norm God sets in genesis is one of theose doctrines of demon. god did say I will make for adam a man but a woman. he created marriage man and woman. jesus affirmed man and woman in marriage-matt 19. paul continually speaks against all forms of homosexuality and sees active gay lifestyles as immoral-I cor 6/romans 1..pauls sexual ethic is marriage between men and women. nowhere in either ot/nt is that ever questioned. these false teachers be twist the bible to gain a level of popularity and acceptance. I wish these verses I quote were not there but they are and our lord has not changed his mind on this. Call me any name but I am trying to be faithful to his word. I belive gays need compassion, understanding and love but like all of us with crosses to bear they need repentance and faith to allow god to help them be the new creation in Christ-not the old creation in sin.

  18. ralph acerno says:

    Thanks for the time spent replying. No. Scholars who teach paul was speaking of men who have sex with small boys in 1 cor 6 are certainly a small minority. for 2000 years the church never interpreted that way and I will tell you why. paul as a jew saw any act of homosexuality be it lesbians or any gay lifestyle as immoral . that runs throughout his teachings. Jesus saw the only sexual relationship within the bounds of marriage of a man and woman-matthew 19. These people who teach that paul was ok with gays except men having with boys have to do a lot of straining to make the passage of 1 cor 6 fir that for paul included homosexuality to include lesbians as well-romans 1:18-25.

    When I said I will be corrected and gays who will be condemned I am speaking about the terrible warning and consequences of living a lifestyle I see in I cor 6 as one that prevents you from heaven. I have a lot of compassion of gays who struggle with this sin but I am not at all in agreement with these false rca groups like room for all who pervert the bible to celebrate what is clearly against scripture. in just a few decades we have overturned centuries of what was seen as a sad perversion into a celebration. scripture says in the last days people will turn to doctrines of demons. to undermine and change the norm God sets in genesis is one of theose doctrines of demon. god did say I will make for adam a man but a woman. he created marriage man and woman. jesus affirmed man and woman in marriage-matt 19. paul continually speaks against all forms of homosexuality and sees active gay lifestyles as immoral-I cor 6/romans 1..pauls sexual ethic is marriage between men and women. nowhere in either ot/nt is that ever questioned. these false teachers be twist the bible to gain a level of popularity and acceptance. I wish these verses I quote were not there but they are and our lord has not changed his mind on this. Call me any name but I am trying to be faithful to his word. I believe gays need compassion, understanding and love but like all of us with crosses to bear they need repentance and faith to allow god to help them be the new creation in Christ-not the old creation in sin.Room for all will stand under god’s judgement for their perverted celebration of what the Bible clear teaches is wrong.

  19. ralph acerno says:

    I am sure you are trying to sincerely live for the Lord. I understand my words may come across as judgemental and harsh. No doubt in reading some of the Biblical warnings on this lifestyle god does as well. But I am saying this to if possibly see people turn from this as well as these false teachers who say to you”Go ahead. celebrate it. Protest against these Bible quoting people who show no love”. In reality those of us who try to reach gays with the real gospel are the very ones seeking to help those from being judged. I can be reached through my website to any who truly want the truth of God’s word on this and need support.

  20. 8thday says:

    Rev Acerno, your unwillingness (or inability) to answer my questions speaks volumes. But putting your head in the sand does not make the issue of your hypocrisy go away.

    And how VERY interesting that a google search came up with your 2007 marriage announcement which states that “The bride was a widow; the bridegroom’s two previous marriages ended in divorce.”

    So I guess that is 3 divorces huh?

    But I am sure you are trying to sincerely live for the Lord.

  21. ralph acerno says:

    OK. You seem eager to point out my filings which I assure you I know better than of my areas of failing.I will say again that when Christians fail they confess their sin and admit it is a sin and seek to move ahead with God. I have done that. Now to you:

    Can YOU admit your gay lifestyle is a sin?
    Have YOU confessed it?
    Will you celebrate it or confess it?

    I have with divorce.

  22. 8thday says:

    I am not pointing out your failings. I am pointing out your hypocrisy.

    You continue to ask me questions and I have answered each one, honestly and respectfully. How about you answer some of mine before I answer any more of yours?

    And once again I am asking anybody out there who uses the term “gay lifestyle” exactly what that is. How can I even consider admitting to something when I have no idea what that means.

  23. ralph acerno says:

    gay lifestyle= having sex with someone of the same sex regardless if it is even with 1 person in a oving relationship and even what may be called by some “marriage”. this is what is condemned in 1 cor 6 and romans 1

  24. Reading This says:

    THE BIBLE: Matthew 5:32b “Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”.
    3 divorces?!
    Let’s thus pound this thrice:
    THE BIBLE: Matthew 5:32b “Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”.
    THE BIBLE: Matthew 5:32b “Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”.
    THE BIBLE: Matthew 5:32b “Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”.
    Sounds like a divorcing LIFESTYLE!

  25. ralph acerno says:

    By not answering my question I raised you have actually answered my question. I won’t waste any more of your time or mine. I have better things to do with my time.

  26. 8thday says:

    I have every intention of answering your question Rev Acerno. Last night I was helping my partner run a basketball league for at risk youth and this morning I volunteer at my local food pantry. Apparently my lifestyle does not leave me as much free time as yours does. But I will respond to your question today.

    In the meantime perhaps you would answer my other question – do you mete out your condemnations evenly , i.e. to the rich and those who use the Lord’s name in vain (both of which are pretty Biblically clear to keep people from Heaven) or do you specialize in gay sin only?

  27. 8thday says:

    Rev Acerno:

    I find it very interesting that you define lifestyle as sex. If someone were to ask me what my lifestyle was I would probably answer something like – simple, nature loving, service driven. And I would bet that if I asked 100 people to define their lifestyle, not one of them would mention who they were having sex with. And this I think is the crux of the difference between religious zealots and gay folk. YOU are obsessed with gay sex. And I believe that is what Paul condemns in his letter more than one specific kind of sex

    “Gay” is a sexual orientation not a lifestyle.

    To answer your other questions:

    Can I admit that sharing sex within a committed gay relationship is a sin?

    I have done much soul searching on this and no, I guess I really can’t because I don’t really believe that it is a sin. First, I find it difficult to rely solely on Paul, who was not God. In fact, I don’t understand why his opinion on this subject seems to matter more in to you, in terms of condemnation, than say the 10 commandments that were given to us straight from God. Rich people are most clearly denied heaven, (no interpretation needed there) and yet you have not responded to how you “teach” the rich about being condemned. In fact, substitute “the rich” for “the gay” in all of your comments and you will see that you have a lot of work to do teaching to those folks about redemption.

    Second, as I have said, I know what is in my heart and it is not a perversion, or some obsessive gratification. I live in a long term committed relationship. Yes, sex is a part of that relationship, but it is so far down the list of things we share to seem almost ridiculous that THIS is what you obsess about. I know, I know . . . Paul said . . . BTW I just read that Paul was not married. So I assume he never had sex of any kind. Interesting . . . .

    I am curious that you state that God created marriage for man and woman, yet God did not create marriage at all. It is a civil institution , the primary purpose of which was to ensure that the man’s children are biologically his, and women were treated as property. In fact, in Bible is chock full of men with hundreds of wives, fathers raping their daughters, or selling them. I’m not sure the Bible is the best example of your one man, one woman fantasy. I do however, agree with Jesus in that sex should be enjoyed within a committed relationship. Unfortunately, religious folks have tried desperately to keep the social structure of marriage away from gay folks so gays really never had an alterative. I will be interested to see what happens now that marriage equality is sweeping the world. Will gays behave any better than heterosexuals? I kind of doubt it.

    Have I confessed it?

    Again, since I do not believe my relationship is a sin, I have never felt the need to confess it. That said, I do leave room for other opinions and doubt because the reality is, none of us knows for sure. So as I have said, I am trusting that God knows what is in my heart. If He feels there is perversion there, I will be praying for His mercy.

    Will I celebrate it or confess it?

    I do indeed celebrate my relationship. This year we will celebrate 25 years together. Do I celebrate our sexual relationship? No. It is one small fraction of our love and support and well, that would just be weird.

    I hope that fully answers your questions.

    Finally, I am very curious about your statement that you will be corrected and I will be condemned. If I understand you correctly, this is because you have confessed your sin and sought to move ahead with God and I have not confessed what you believe to be sin. But doesn’t confessing your sin also demand that you go forth and sin no more? Isn’t there supposed to be an intention NOT to sin again. So you confessed your sin when you divorced. Then you recommitted to another marriage but divorced again. I assume you once again confessed that sin. Then you made yet another commitment before God and your 3rd wife but then divorced again. Forgive me that I use this example since I assume these marital breakups were very painful for all involved. But I hope you understand why it is difficult for gay folks to take anything you say very seriously. It seems that you are on pretty shaky moral ground to be pointing any fingers, which as one earlier commenter pointed out, is usually the case with those who obsess about gay sex.

  28. Reading This says:

    How in the hell did an RCA congregation call a 3-time divorcee to shepherd their flock? Wow, times they are a-changin’!

  29. rev acerno says:

    This is my last email on the subject. I don’t mind sharing about my divorces first. I was divorced 2 times-not 3. My marriage to my wife has been a wonderful one these last 8 years. I never initiated the divorce in my previous marriages.

    As for Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 6 they are just as much the Lord’s words as the ones spoken in the 10 commandments. The RCA belives the entire Bible is God’s word. I am NOT condeming you! I am a pastor teaching what I believe are clear scriptures against living homosexuality-not the orientation of it but celebrating it as room for all does. Yes I am a sinner like everyone else. I mourn my previous divorces-I do not celebrate it.

    We all fai God. That is not the point here. The difference is seeing divorce as a sin and also seeing the same for homosexuality. It must be very difficult feeling you are having the issue of being attracted to the same sex and I have no desire to condemn but help those caught in it. But to say it’s fine as room for life does is to me a cop out of scripture and leads people down the wrong path. Hey I am not alone here. So far the Synod that met this year agrees to a great degree. But I think RCA will cave in to them at some point and that’s sad

    I wish the Bible affirmed gays. It would make my call easier. No one likes to tell others their sins. But I can only be faithful to what I clearly see in the Bible. I am signing off this site. I am reached by the site http://www.ourcoolchurch.org if I can be of help in this area. Take care.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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