Update: 6/3/2022

As we anticipate Synod 2022 and discussions surrounding the Human Sexuality Report, COS has engaged in Listening Circles aimed at hearing the congregation’s thoughts and perspectives related to the report. We invite you to view this page with more information about the listening circles.

This Pentecost Sunday, June 5, the listening circles that have been discussing the HSR (Human Sexuality Report) will present their feedback to Council after the morning service in the sanctuary. The congregation is welcome to attend. Because the time is very limited, time won’t be set aside to take questions or comments from the congregation. Please use the above form to share comments and questions about the feedback.

Updated: 1/25/2021

As we continue to gather around questions concerning gender and sexuality and the church, we invite you to utilize this webpage for event reminders, resources, and opportunity to share thoughts and concerns.

First, please read, or re-read, this letter from the COS council to the congregation sent in January, 2019. This letter reminds us of the scope of our conversations, and that the “goal of these discussions is to wrestle together with these issues of sexuality and marriage so that we can grow in knowledge and understanding, humbly, respectfully, and above all, led by the Holy Spirit. Our goal is to stay mindful that in our relationships and sexuality, as in all areas of life, we are responding to the wonderful reality of our salvation, not trying to work our way to salvation through a single right doctrine or action. Our goal is not to announce or establish a policy on these matters at the level of our congregation, our classis, or our denomination. Our goal is to learn together and love each other even more.”

Additionally, we encourage our members to read below about our overture to Classis Grand Rapids East regarding the synodical study: Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Near the end of October, the CRCNA synodical study committee released its report articulating “a Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality” (summarized here). Since then, the COS council has been prayerfully discerning how to respond to the report with the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) and in a manner that cultivates the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). This is a weighty report. We recognize that this report is being received differently across our denomination and within our congregation. Some may feel its contents provide needed clarity in this cultural moment. Others may feel it fosters division and does further damage to fellow believers who have already been wounded by the church. We all recognize this report must be addressed within the context of beloved community where discernment is marked by repentant humility, deep prayer, empathetic listening, and honest conversation.

The COS council has reached the conclusion that given the length and complexity of the report, the constraints of life in the midst of pandemic, and the timeline of when this report will be presented to synod, it is simply impossible to move through such discernment well together as a congregation. We need more time to engage this report in a way that deepens our Christ-likeness and seeks the unity that is ours in the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). As such, the council has unanimously approved the following overture which will be presented to classis in February for consideration of being sent on to synod. Council has commissioned a workgroup of congregants to discern opportunities for faithful response and engagement as a congregation.

We believe that all things can and do hold together in Christ (Col. 1:17). We believe we can courageously and lovingly live together in the tension of difference. We believe that by leaning into honest conversation in a spirit of love, we can be sanctified more and more as God’s holy people. We ask for your prayers and your participation in opportunities to learn and discuss, like GPS on this topic planned for the next two Sundays. We welcome your voice as together we discern what is best (Phil. 1:10).

Yours in Christ,

The Executive Committee of Council
Eric Kort, chair of council
Corrie Vos, chair of elders
Stacy Steen, chair of deacons
Karen Campbell, co-pastor
Andrew Mead, co-pastor

Read the overture here.

As we seek to learn together and love each other more, please join us for events:

Past: God’s People Seeking (GPS) on January 17 and 24, 2021
A two-part GPS series on the Human Sexuality Report. Synod has shared the Human Sexuality Report (summarized here) with congregations and encouraged church families to have discussions around the contents of this report. This report attempts to define how churches within our denomination should respond to a variety of relational matters, including gay marriage, the stance of the church in regards to LGBTQ members, premarital sex, and other potentially controversial topics. Presenters guided us through a summary of this report and create opportunities for feedback. We look forward to prayerfully and humbly navigating through this report with all the members of our COS family.

Past: August 11, 2019 8:30-9:50 am

As COS continues to deepen our discernment about sexuality and life together in Christ, please join us on Sunday August 11 from 8:30 – 9:50 am in room 3 off the café.

Two RCA pastors currently writing a book on marriage and celibacy will share their work: Two Ways of the Cross: Rediscovering Marriage and Celibacy in Light of the Contemporary Sexuality Debate.

How do the two vocations of marriage and celibacy witness in their own unique, complementary ways to the gospel? In what ways do they witness to the cross, and the new creation? Steven Rodriguez and Kevin Slusher, two pastors committed to spiritual friendship, one married with children, one gay and committed to a life of celibacy, each bring a unique perspective to these questions. Breakfast foods and coffee will be on hand! Please contact Pastor Andrew with any questions.

Past Event: Sunday School GPS (God’s People Seeking) – February 24 at 9 amGrowing Good Fruit in the soil of Difference.
This is an event that grows largely out of a stated desire from our Crossing Over summary: ‘It is our hope and intent that the members of the congregation shall experience a rich fellowship with each other, bridging age, gender and cultural differences. We desire to create opportunities for deeper spiritual intimacy and vulnerability with one another.’ During this Sunday School hour our Pastors, Karen Campbell and Andrew Mead, will facilitate a time of discussion and prayer as members of Council and the congregation share about models of dealing with difference well. The purpose is to encourage our congregation to consciously set good self postures of humility, gentleness, patience and speaking the truth in love towards each other.

Read our Recap and Reflections of the February 24 GPS.

Read Gary Burge’s Story from February 24 GPS

Past Event: IGSS (Intergenerational Sunday School) – March 3 at 9 am • We’ll continue our discussions from the previous week on gender and sexuality. Children in grade six and younger should report to the youth room at 9 AM. Those in grade 7 and older can report to the café area, as usual. Part of our time will be spent listening to some of the discoveries that were made by our high school students at their winter retreat last weekend focused on gender, sexuality, and the church.

Larry’s Handout from IGSS

Link to article “Like the Wideness of the Sea” by Lewis Smedes

Past Event: Sunday School – March 10, 17, and 24 at 9 am • Dr. Nick Wolterstorff will use the adult education time (GPS) over three weeks to talk about how he has come to hold his current convictions on same-sex marriage. Session One will include a story of Nick’s own movement from embracing the traditional rejection of same-sex marriage to his present affirmation of it. Session Two will look at the relevant biblical texts. Session Three will include a panel of those in the community so we can hear their stories in their own voice.

Verses for Part Two

Past Event: Sunday, April 14, at 9 am, GPS continues its series on sexuality and gender and the life of the Church by hosting a conversation with Calvin Theological Seminary Professor Gary Burge. Gary Burge is a COS member who joined the Calvin seminary faculty in the fall of 2017 after completing 25 years as a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. As a New Testament scholar, Gary will help in describing how a traditional position is often read, presented, and understood. Join us as we continue to wrestle together with these issues of sexuality and marriage so that we can grow in knowledge and understanding, humbly, respectfully, and above all, led by the Holy Spirit.

Past Event: Sunday, April 28: Join us this week at 9 am for a GPS panel discussion on: “Living Together in Difference”. Our events and discussions surrounding gender and sexuality and the church raise some big questions. Why is sexual orientation so difficult to discuss for churches? How can COS live successfully with a diversity of views on sexual orientation? What does “successfully” even mean in this discussion? How can COS approach these conversations with a sense of hope? This GPS panel will include Barb Doorlag, Mary Loeks, and Dale Cooper as they share thoughts on these questions and insights into what has been formative for them as they approach conversations around sexual orientation.

Check back here often as more events are added.

We also invite you to use the form below to share with the Gender Advisory Group any questions or concerns you have as we seek to engage our questions with a sincere and deep faith, in humility, ready learn from each other, our diverse stories, and our study of scripture.