GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Christian Reformed Church of America on Wednesday voted to make its stance on LGBTQ relationships a core belief.

It also told Neland Avenue CRC, located on Neland Avenue near Martin Luther King Park in Grand Rapids, to end the term of a deacon who is in a LGBTQ marriage.

The 2022 CRC Synod has been meeting throughout the week at Calvin University in Grand Rapids. Delegates on Tuesday voted to recommend a Human Sexuality Report to churches “as providing a useful summary of biblical teaching regarding human sexuality.”

Synod continued its discussion Wednesday, voting to make the denomination’s stance on human sexuality, first set in 1973, a confessional issue, or a core belief.

The vote to “affirm that unchastity in the Heidelberg Catechism encompasses adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, polyamory, pornography and homosexual sex, all of which violate the seventh commandment,” passed 123 to 53, with two voting to abstain.

Delegates voted to not add a footnote to Q&A 108 of the Heidelberg Catechism, a confession of faith written as a series of questions and answers that the CRC affirms.

Some say the issue could cause people to leave the church. Dozens gathered on Calvin’s campus to rally in support of the LGBTQ community on Tuesday.

“The report has been somewhat upsetting to many of us who are in the LGBTQ community and who are their family members and allies, because it is so negative and we think there are many, many flaws in the report,” CRC member Tom Hoeksema told News 8 on Tuesday.

Many in the group were concerned about what the changes will mean for leaders within the church who are part of the LGBTQ community.

In a 134-44 vote, synod on Wednesday voted that Neland Avenue CRC must end the term of a LGBTQ deacon.

It instructed “Neland Ave. CRC to immediately rescind its decision to ordain a deacon in a same sex marriage, thus nullifying this deacon’s current term.”

A member of the committee that made the recommendation said Neland Avenue had “broken covenant with fellow churches.”

“When Neland Avenue CRC ordained a person in a same-sex marriage, it acted outside the bounds of past synodical decisions, procedures, and guidance, and the CRCNA’s interpretation of Scripture as it relates to same-sex marriage,” the committee member read from the committee’s introduction.

A delegate who is the chair of council at Neland was not allowed to vote on the issue, according to the CRC’s liveblog.

Delegates on Thursday voted to appoint a committee that will meet with Neland Avenue to “oversee its compliance” and will “admonish” the Classis Grand Rapids East, the CRC said in a tweet. Classis Grand Rapids East is the group of churches Neland Avenue is a part of within the denomination.

The CRC in a statement said it “loves” the LGBTQ community.

“A study committee was tasked with articulating a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality. That report was approved yesterday as providing a useful summary of biblical teaching regarding human sexuality. And yet, delegates wavered and debated on how to move forward on making a stance on homosexuality something that is confessional or binding to all those who hold ordained offices in the denomination.

“What was shared by everyone is a desire to love and care for people in the LGBTQ community. We want them to know that God loves them and the church loves them. We want to care for them and walk alongside them. What was also shared by everyone is a commitment to scripture and our shared confessions. We want to do God’s will and live godly lives. Where delegates differed was in how they found the balance between these two things.

“Today, synod voted to strengthen its position on human sexuality by acknowledging that this position is taught in its confessional statements of faith. The implications for what this means for pastors, university professors, staff and other members who disagree with the position needs to be discerned. We anticipate sharing more information with churches and members in the coming weeks.”

Christian Reformed Church of America

Calvin University is affiliated with the CRC church. When News 8 reached out to Calvin for a statement on how this will impact faculty, a spokesperson directed News 8 to the CRC.