‘Blood on our hands’

Why one Synod delegate was ruled out of order and remained silent.

When CRC Synod delegate Dominic Palacios said “I believe our theology around this issue has caused there to be blood on our hands, and there will continue to be blood on our hands because of it,” he lost the right to speak again for ‘violating the rules of decorum.’ CC reached out to both the President of Synod and Palacios to find out more.

CC: How did Palacios violate the rules of decorum?
Jose Rayas, President of Synod: Synod is a deliberative body and that means that everyone’s input and participation is important. However, a deliberative body of nearly 200 people also requires rules to ensure that the deliberation and discernment can take place in an orderly way. […] Delegates to synod are often ruled out of order. It happens at every synod, especially when debates are heated. This year was no exception. However, other delegates either challenged the ruling immediately or they accepted the ruling. Rev. Palacios did not seek to rescind his words, nor did he make an appeal to the floor to challenge the ruling. This is why he lost his privilege to speak during deliberations. […] I continue to value him and his contributions to the Christian Reformed Church.

CC: Why did you make such a strong statement?
Dominic Palacios: I came to Synod wanting to find common ground, especially surrounding recommendation D in the report [confessional status]. When the committee reports dropped like they did, and the minority report was not given a hearing, I knew the report was going to pass so I wanted to talk to the people who weren’t there. LGBTQ voices were neglected. The gallery was closed. We were instructed not to tell stories. I was talking to the excluded and I wanted them to know that they have friends and allies in this denomination. Most importantly, I wanted to let them know that the HSR lies about who they are and that God loves them.

I also wanted to challenge the pastors. In the CRC, we often think of theology as an intellectual exercise detached from the people we serve. We cannot distance ourselves from the consequences of passing this report. We have harmed people with the toxic theology of the 1973 report. We will not get better results if we double down on it, with only a promise to be nicer. That is why I said, “we have blood on our hands.” I stand by those words. In fact, that is what most people mention when they reach out to me.

CC: What’s happened in the week since Synod for you?
Dominic Palacios: Fifty to sixty people have reached out. Most of these messages start off by saying, “You don’t know me. . ..” Common themes from those within the LGBTQ community are abandonment: they feel as if the church that baptized them has said “You are not welcome here.” Anxiety: the report says your “salvation is at stake” if you are gay and not celibate. And thankfulness: many are thankful that I used my voice to speak up for them. That language might have offended the Chair [of Synod], but it gave hope to many.


  • Angela Reitsma Bick

    Angela became Editor of CC in 2009, having learned English grammar in Moscow, research skills in grad school and everything else on the fly. Her vision is for CC to give body to a Reformed perspective by exploring what it means to follow Jesus today. She hopes that the shared stories of God at work in the world inspire each reader to participate in the ongoing task of renewing his creation. Angela lives in Newcastle, Ontario with her husband, Allan, and three children.

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One Comment

  1. I’m one of those people whose thoughts have changed over the years. As things stand now, I could not recommend the CRCNA to an LGBQ+ acquaintance searching for a church home.

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