This week the United Reformed Churches of North America (URCNA) are having their synod in Wheaton, Illinois. One of the decisions made so far has to do with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN). Up till this synod, the URCNA had a relationship with the RCN termed as “ecumenical contact.” This was the first step on the way to having a closer relationship as sister churches. However, because Synod Meppel last year decided to admit women to all the offices of the church, the URCNA has decided to terminate this relationship. One needs to remember that the URCNA partly owes its very existence to this issue — they developed out of an exodus of faithful believers from the Christian Reformed Church in the 1990s. One of the main issues leading to that was the adoption of women in office.
Last week, the Dutch media reported that the RCN had examined its first woman at a classis for preaching consent. Gerry Bos was examined by Classis Hattem and is now able to preach in the churches. Even before Synod Meppel, however, one RCN church had already allowed a woman to take the pulpit as part of her theological training. In 2015, Ineke Baron was permitted to preach at the RCN in Haulerwijk.
Next week, starting on Monday, the Free Reformed Churches of Australia will have their synod. One of the major items for discussion will be our relationship with the RCN. The deputies responsible for ecumenical relations with the RCN are proposing the termination of this relationship. If that happens (and it likely will), it should be another clear signal to the RCN that they are on the path of unfaithfulness. Sister churches and organizations like the ICRC see the writing on the wall — the faithful still in the RCN ought not to be naive and see it too. It is increasingly becoming apparent that their calling is to depart and find a bond of faithful churches.