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North American denomination agrees to women clergy


The Christian Reformed Church, one of the North American branches of the Protestant Reformed tradition, has voted to allow the ordination of women after almost four decades of discussion on the issue.

"I’ve worked and prayed for this moment for years," said the Rev. George Vander Weit, an advocate of women’s ordination in the denomination. "I think [this proposal] gives us space."

The 12 June decision was made at the denomination’s annual synod meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A day later, the synod voted to allow women as delegates to the denomination’s synod.

A compromise was struck, however, for those in the church who oppose women’s ordination. The synod said local church bodies – called "classes" – that still oppose a wider role for women can continue to set restrictions for women as delegates at local church meetings.

The compromise was touted as a way to avoid the 300 000-member denomination splintering. The Rev. George Vink, who headed the panel that addressed the issue of the role of women within the denomination, compared church unity to a choir. A CRC news report quoted Wink as saying, "We can sing the same song but we sing in parts."

The CRC has 1000 congregations in the United States and Canada, and is based in Grand Rapids and in Burlington, Ontario. It is part of the branch of North American churches that traces its roots back to the teachings of Protestant leader John Calvin.

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