The Banner is the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Our mandate is to inform, inspire, educate, and challenge members of the CRCNA by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
The life of The Banner began in 1866, when Rev. John Y. De Baun began publishing a 16-page monthly for the True Protestant Reformed Dutch Church in New Jersey. That denomination had broken from the Reformed Church in America in 1822. In 1890 the denomination became Classis Hackensack (a regional group of churches) in the CRCNA. The magazine was originally called The Banner of Truth, based on Psalm 60:4, which states: “You have given a banner to them that fear you, to be displayed because of the truth.”
In 1887, Rev. De Baun became the first pastor of LaGrave Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich., and brought the magazine along with him. In 1903 a group of businessmen bought it from Rev. De Baun, planning to use it for conveying Reformed teachings in the English language to people in the Christian Reformed Church. The magazine moved from a monthly to a bi-weekly format in 1904, and in 1904 the name was shortened to The Banner.
The Christian Reformed Church took over publication of The Banner in 1914, purchasing it for $5,000. The Banner became the English-language partner of the more prestigious, Dutch-language periodical De Wachter. In 1945 The Banner became a 32-page weekly. In 1997 it became a bi-weekly, and in 2002 it went full circle and again became a monthly.
This 16-mm film was made in the 1960s to tell readers just how The Banner was made. The film was produced by WOOD Television in Grand Rapids, Mich. Today, although parts of the process have changed, many have stayed the same, the most important of which being The Banner's goal: to carry the word of God and the news of the Christian Reformed Church throughout the world.
See a shortened version of the film here:
The editors of The Banner came to have significant influence in the CRC. That may have been due to the personalities, stature, and length of service of two editors: Rev. Henry Beets was editor from 1903 until 1928. Rev. Beets was highly committed to mission work and was an ecumenist. Rev. H.J. Kuiper, probably the most influential of all the editors, served as editor from 1928 to 1956. He freely stated his views on all issues facing the CRC, and his opinions usually carried the day— he virtually became a “paper pope.”
After Rev. Kuiper, editorships became less lengthy:
- Rev. John Vander Ploeg, 1956 –1970
- Lester De Koster, 1970 –1980
- Rev. Andrew Kuyvenhoven, 1980 –1989
- Rev. Galen Meyer, 1989 –1992
- Rev. John Kromminga and Rev. Harvey Smit 1992 –1993
- Rev. John Suk, 1993 – 2003
- Rev. Robert DeMoor, 2003 – 2015
- Rev. Leonard Vander Zee, interim editor, 2015-2016
- Shiao Chong, 2016 - present
In 1970 Calvin College students published The Bananer, a satirical skewering of The Banner. Its publication was met with controversy; some were appalled, others highly entertained.
In 2005 the denomination chose to make the magazine a forum for the whole community (a sort of “kitchen table”), rather than for just the 20,000 or so who subscribed. It opted to end subscriptions and instead, using a portion of ministry share, send a copy to every household in the Christian Reformed Church—more than 90,000! (The Banner still accepts advertising, and gift subscriptions are still available for interested readers who are not CRC members.) Part of that move entailed incorporating a separate magazine from denominational agencies, CRC Source, within the center of The Banner. Those pages today are known as "Our Shared Ministry" (previously titled “Together Doing More,” 2012 to 2017; and earlier "Church @ Work"); they tell stories of the ministry CRC members participate in together around the world.
Along with the guidelines first set out by Synod 2005, The Banner's editorial staff is accountable to its synodical mandate and its vision and core values.