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Council Communication, June 2023

Dear Church,

Synod 2023 will take place in early June, which means it has been a full year since the denomination’s decisions about the Human Sexuality Report set in motion a flurry of activity at CotS. The Council continues to wrestle with the resulting issues, and we’d like to provide another update. First, we recently notified you of some upcoming educational initiatives in response to the many requests we heard during our listening circles this spring. More information will be provided soon. Second, Pastor Chris continues to dialog with our Classis about the overtures Council submitted last year.

Finally, we also discussed in May where we stand as a Council on human sexuality as it pertains to aspects of church life. The basis for our discussions was a set of statements we drafted to identify and distinguish those various aspects. Although we took no formal votes (and will not do so until the education initiatives are complete), in the interest of transparency we’d like to share those statements with you, along with a rough sense of Council’s current support for each. The statements are listed below; the bracketed text after each numbered item describes the level of Council support.

In Christ,

Bruce Huber, on behalf of the COTS Council

Church of the Savior is deeply rooted in the Reformed tradition, and we wish to remain in fellowship with the CRC. We find ourselves, however, in a situation in which not all Council members (and not all church members) hold to the denomination’s positions on human sexuality as they relate to LGBTQ people. We’ve organized a time of education as a church to discuss these issues, but worship and the business of the church must continue in the meantime. With that in mind and in a spirit of full transparency, the Council affirms the following regarding belief, sacraments, membership, and leadership.

1. We have a diversity of viewpoints and beliefs on matters of human sexuality within our congregation. While holding one another accountable to love of God and love of neighbor, we do not bind anyone’s conscience regarding these matters, on which there are different interpretations of the Bible made by believers in good faith. [There was near-unanimous support for this item.]

2. Desiring to learn and grow in our understanding of what the Bible teaches about human sexuality, our adult education may invite discussion that is at odds with some aspects of CRC teaching on this subject. [There was unanimous support for this item.]

3. We offer loving discipleship, pastoral care, and hospitality to everyone whom God brings into our fellowship, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. [There was unanimous support for this item.]

4. Believing that our invitation to the Lord’s table is based on his grace and not our works, all who know their need for the grace of Jesus Christ are welcome at communion. If a situation arises in which someone’s behavior is seriously undermining the integrity and trust of the congregation, the Elders will address that specific situation with truth and grace and as led by the Spirit. [There was near-unanimous support for this item.]

5. Eagerly desiring to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us, the invitation to membership in the church is open to all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Recognizing that we are all on a journey toward Christlikeness, our default position is to embrace rather than exclude, and to encourage new members toward greater faith and holiness. [A significant majority supported this item.]

6. Nomination and appointment to Council will be open to all members in good standing based on character, Christlikeness, and the fruits we see in their lives. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status will not be taken into account, nor will agreement with the recent decisions of Synod regarding inclusion of LGBTQ people. [A significant majority supported this item.]

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