By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
Sometimes we make statements with little thought. Particularly when we are hurt or angry, we say things we don’t really mean. Quite often there is just enough truth in the statement to be far more destructive than we realize. Other statements help us work together by clarifying what is important and what we do. ARC’s mission statement explains our overriding purpose. Our core values articulate what is most important to us. Our vision statement gives us direction for the future. These statements should help unify the church in being who God wants us to be and doing what he wants us to do. I hope these inspire you to do what God designed you to do for the benefit of His kingdom.
Because there were many questions about our beliefs from candidates who applied for the senior pastor position, the Search Team requested that the elders clarify our beliefs, particularly our stances on homosexuality and women in leadership. While our denomination has several creeds (short statements of basic beliefs) and confessions (longer statements designed to teach fundamentals of our faith), our creeds and confessions do not provide the clarity we need today regarding some controversial issues. You can read these statements at www.altoreformedchurch.org/our-beliefs.html.
I did some research to see what other Reformed churches are using for statements of faith. Corinth Reformed Church, in Byron Center MI, has done a great deal of work on their statement, so with their permission, we began to create a statement of faith from theirs and address the key concerns of the search team. This turned into a rather extensive statement, which will hopefully stir conversation, reflection, and growth.
After much discussion the elders chose to “agree to disagree” regarding a stance on women in leadership. While Alto allows women to teach, we have not elected women to the consistory. Alto has members and leaders who disagree on this topic, thus we landed in favor of unity in spite of our differences. As there are many Scriptures used in this debate, it is a matter for further study and discussion for our church.
The elders also felt our current statement on sexuality singles out homosexuality above other sins. While this was and is in response to the pressure from our culture and government to affirm alternate lifestyles, we felt the new statement better affirms the sanctity of marriage and clarifies our understanding of what the Bible teaches regarding sexual sin. It is not our intent to condemn others, but to welcome sinners to the cross where there is forgiveness and transformation for all. If you struggle with habitual sin, we want to walk with you, help you escape the bonds of sin, and equip you as a Christ-like leader. If you or a family member struggles with homosexuality, we do have resources that can be helpful in understanding how to live in grace and truth. You are encouraged to speak with Pastor Kevin, an elder, or a staff member.
Statements matter, and I hope you will take some time to reflect on our Statement of Faith. May God continue to teach and guide us into all wisdom and truth as we make his love visible to the world.