Greenbelt Interfaith News
    U.S. Brief

    August 28, 1997

    Controversial Reformed Pastor Deposed from Ministry

    A Michigan pastor whose teachings brought controversy within the Reformed Church in America (RCA) has been found guilty by an RCA regional unit of "gross sexual misconduct" and deposed from the ordained ministry. The Rev. Richard Rhem, senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, Michigan, caused debate in the RCA after he taught that salvation could be achieved apart from Jesus Christ. The legislative body of the RCA recently backed a resolution requiring that RCA ministers annually affirm that salvation can be achieved through Christ alone.

    Mr. Rhem was found guilty on August 5 by the RCA's Muskagee Classis of having an affair with a married woman in his congregation. The minister's trial has complicated earlier efforts by his church to withdraw from the RCA; the RCA has refused to allow the church to withdraw from its denomination, since it would then have no way in which to discipline Mr. Rhem. A civil suit from the church is now pending. "We do not recognize this 'trial' and its judgment as a valid event in the life of our ministry," Don Van Ostenberg, board of trustees chairman at Christ Community Church said in a prepared statement, according to the United Reformed News Service.

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    ©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson