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Refinements for Synod

A recommendation I suggest is that synod commit to scheduling overtures and appeals on Mondays so that geographically distant synod attendees can attend without missing seven days of work (“Task Force Recommends Refinements for Annual Synods,” Feb 2019). Currently distant attendees are required to sit in the gallery, waiting and wondering when and what day their item of concern will come to floor. This creates confusion about how best to buy a plane ticket that fits the need. At Synod 2018 I had to stay in Michigan longer than necessary because I couldn’t change my plane ticket. As advisory committees meet on Saturday, if overtures and appeals could be addressed on Monday, money and time would be saved and confusion reduced.

Judy De Wit // Sioux Falls, S.D.

Putting a Face on Deportation

The Old Testament prophets are not calling us to support illegal activity (“When Deportation Gets Personal,” Feb. 2019). Upholding our laws does not mean we are afraid of anything or are any less compassionate, as the author implies. She does not speak for me. Supporting deportation of [people who enter the country illegally] is the only way to seek justice for all. You can promote mercy by helping immigrants with the costs and sponsorship through legal ports of entry, and continue to walk humbly with God who calls us to obey those in authority while trusting in his compassionate care for all his children no matter what they face in their own countries.

Sally Rishaw // Phoenix, Ariz.

Emily Brink has done a great service to readers in her article “When Deportation Gets Personal.” Telling Yesica’s story will hopefully make a difference. True, this young mother, having escaped Guatemala with her two little boys, was living in this country illegally. Such situations often provoke outrage. But this article shifted the issue away from the rancor of political debate and shined a light on Scripture and our Christian faith.

Ruth Tucker and John Worst // Grand Rapids, Mich.

We Are All Biased

Re: “We Are All Biased” (Feb. 2019): We are all biased. We have tendencies to pick on something to support our own biblical agenda. Our biblical Reformed hermeneutics (a daunting word) have never relied on a specific text to conform our beliefs with our contained word of God.

George Lieuwen // Langley, B.C.

Beware the Yeast

Thanks for your work as editor! The article “Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees” (Feb. 2019) has been running through my mind continually. “That ought to humble us, make us reluctant to judge others, and make us examine our hearts and our motives” is such a great reminder and is something I need to put into practice daily.

Jody Dooyema // Sioux Falls, S.D.

Atheism and Religion

As a former atheist myself, I have to say “Well done” and “You hit the mark” to Mike Wagenman (“Is Atheism a Religion?”, Feb. 2019). Many atheists assume their philosophical and theological beliefs are scientifically proven somehow. Instead they simply proclaim their faith and assumptions about what exists and what does not when they insist there is no God. Every human being has a spiritual search engine that will always be seeking a god, and some end up finding the god of the Enlightenment. In the end, however, it was not clever arguments about how atheism is a religion that caused my heart to change. Only the love of God in Jesus Christ communicated through the inspired Word of God and lived out in a faithful, loving, and grace-filled community could do that.

Ken Krause // Big Rapids, Mich.

Elmer Yazzie Art

Thanks for including the Native American art by Elmer Yazzie (“Art Teacher Participates in Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride of Reconciliation,” Feb. 2019). It is interesting as art, and it also draws attention to atrocities done to Native Americans. Banner readers did not commit the atrocities but still benefit from what our country did. It is too easy and too comfortable for us to ignore this reality. Our collective guilt will stay with us until we recognize what we did and try to make amends. We are grateful for The Banner taking this small step in the process.

Jake Terpstra // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Breathing Space

I was disappointed to read that River Terrace CRC in East Lansing is offering yoga classes (“‘Breathing Space’ Offers Yoga, Psalms,” Feb. 2019). I am not against exercise but would encourage the church to look into the origins of yoga. It comes from the Hindu religion. As we have more refugees from Hindu nations living in our country and turning to Christianity, I am afraid that they would be confused to see Christians doing a Hindu practice called yoga. Why not call these classes “stretching exercises that relieve stress” instead of yoga?

Elisabeth Beels // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Affordable Housing

Re: “Ecumenical Grant Helps Toronto Churches Talk about Affordable Housing” (Feb. 2019): The city of Brockville, Ont., has an excellent example of developing senior nonprofit housing projects. The Marguerita Residence Corp. (MRC), a nonprofit housing corporation headed by a Baptist pastor, had built two senior buildings of over 120 units. By 2014 the Wall Street United Church had bought 14 houses in their downtown city block but did not have the expertise to develop the property. The MRC and the church joined together, and I offered my services as the volunteer development manager (I’m a member of Brockville CRC). The County joined the partnership by offering low-income subsidies for 30 of the 85 units. The church donated the land in return for having control of half the rental units for its members. The project value is $14 million.

Richard Van Veldhuizen // Brockville, Ont.

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