Thank you to Roxanne Van Farowe for her article “#ChurchToo: Lessons from Willow Creek” (Nov. 2018). I have worked independently for 22 years within Christian Reformed churches to address abuse issues, both sexual abuse and abuse of power. Most of the churches’ responses have been filled with denial, ignoring, dismissing victims, and “don’t make me uncomfortable.” Not until Synod 2018, which I attended with Bev Sterk and her Overture 2, have I finally witnessed genuine understanding and concern about abuse in the CRC. I ask, why? Why has it taken this long? Does it take a Willow Creek crash to wake us up and begin to realize that we too are guilty of this sin and should do something about it?
Judy De Wit // Sioux Falls, S.D.
Every year, usually around synod time, we review the number of CRC congregations that have reported that they have a safe church/abuse prevention policy (“#ChurchToo: Lessons from Willow Creek”). This number has increased over the years, from 52 percent in 2012 to 74 percent in 2018. After Synod 2018, new data will be collected from churches regarding additional safe church practices, including education for children and training for church leadership. We are pleased that the CRC is recognizing the need to pay attention to additional safe church practices beyond policy.
Bonnie Nicholas, Safe Church Ministry // online comment
When Christian Celebrities Fall
I appreciate The Banner’s acknowledgment of the fact that the Willow Creek board of elders felt compelled to resign (“When Christian ‘Celebrities’ Fall,” Dec. 2018) because of their blind support for Bill Hybels through his denial but more importantly for their failure to hold him accountable over the past years. What is very bewildering to me is our quick desire to find “golden truths” and good in the perpetrator’s legacy. It is disturbing that women are hardly mentioned here—and then only as “victims.”
They have been shamed and silenced for decades. What does biblical justice look like for women who suffer at the hands of powerful men?
Jenny deGroot // Langley, B.C.
Our weekly prayer group at church enjoyed the article “Loving Small” (Oct. 2018). It reminded us that the small things we do and are asked to do for the people who are marginalized in our church and parish community are important, even when we wonder if they make an impact. Thank you for the article and for the encouragement it produced.
Judy Gabrielse // Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thank you for your response concerning the question about writing complete sentences in a text message (“Digital Life,” Oct. 2018). I’m quite comfortable with the short, abbreviated style of text messaging simply because it’s practical and efficient. Typing on a screen is labor intensive and time consuming. Just need to get acquainted with the style! (I’m a retired guy, 62.)
Jack Rintjema // Smithville, Ont.
Longing, Hope, and Solidarity
After reading Cory Willson’s article “Prayers of the Infertile: Longing, Hope, and Solidarity” (Oct. 2018), I am only now beginning to understand the career of my late husband, Dr. Richard Westmaas, in counseling the broken who came to his office. He often quoted Romans 5:5: “And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” He entered into the suffering of his patients.
Evelyn Westmaas // Grand Rapids, Mich.
When Words Can’t Do It Justice
I really appreciated “When Words Can’t Do It Justice” (Sept. 2018) by Jim Payton. It reminded me of Corrie Ten Boom’s devotional for July 2 in her book Each New Day titled “Marveling at His ‘Uns’ . . . Unfathomable, Unchangeable, Unsearchable, Unutterable, Unimaginable, Unspeakable, Unnumbered.” Try to get that book and make your own list of all those “uns.” You will “stand amazed at the unfathomable complexity of God’s wisdom and his knowledge.” May this be a blessing to many more.
Judy Oppewal // Pella, Iowa
What Are We Afraid Of?
Thank you for this editorial (“What Are We Afraid Of?,” Sept. 2018). To add to this, in our divided world no one acts. Modern city existence has developed in us the habit of noninvolvement and detachment or withdrawal of feelings. We must stand up to evil and be heard.
Andy A. Renema // Pitt Meadows, B.C.