Dialog on Homosexuality

Now that the event is over, it is amazing how significant the last session of our Regional Synod Dialog on Homosexuality was. In classic Reformed manner, there was not a whole lot of publicity. Neither did we have fancy invitations or a grand opening dinner.

Instead, roughly 20 people from congregations of our Regional Synod met on a Friday evening and Saturday morning early in January in our Fellowship Hall. Under the leadership of Rev. Dr. John Stapert from Phoenix, AZ, we discussed several positions, “voices”, on the subject that came to us in form of various colored papers. There was an “Uncertainty Voice”, a “Moral Decline Voice”, “Two Voices of Pain”, the “Voice of a Parent”, a “Context-of-Ministry Voice”, a “Gay Voice”, a “Social Stability Voice”, a “Traditional RCA Voice”, an “Asian-American Voice”, a “Canadian Voice”, an “African-American Voice”, and an “Outreach Voice”.

The diversity was very attractive and gave us a better understanding of the complexity of the dialog. Of course, one can say that these were “paper-voices” and not live people that met with us. And it is certainly correct to raise the question how we can even talk of “dialog”, if it is, under current circumstances, not feasible for an openly gay or lesbian person to enter these conversations directly.

However, our listening event and dialog showed some remarkable results nevertheless. First of all, it was noticeable that the outspoken conservative camp was also missing from these particular January sessions. In contrast to the lack of gay or lesbian people, this was, of course, a matter of choice. Nevertheless, it made the rest of us feel like a newly emerging middle, a new mainline so to speak.

This was confirmed by many of our contributions to the question how denominational guidance on the issue should look like. Many of us asked for polity that provides forms of living together for people of a great spectrum of positions and opinions. What the participants of our event oftentimes did not want to see happen was a denominational policy that would focus on content rather than form and therefore prescribe a certain position to all.

Naturally, there are attempts from both camps within our denomination to make their respective position dominant. Our dialog events, by contrast, seem to provide good middle ground – according to the principle “live and let live”. This will, however, not make us blind over against the pain of our fellow brothers and sisters with differing sexual orientations. We still have a long way to go in our denomination until we will have a safe space for all.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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