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I was extremely disappointed to read of Synod’s decision to not go forward with the longer celebration of women’s ordination and instead reduce it to two months in order to not offend the one classis that does not approve of women in office (“Recognition of 25th Anniversary of Women's Ordination Scaled Back,” July/August 2020). ... I understand we allow this for the sake of unity, but what kind of unity are we basing this on when it undermines, denies, and excludes 50% of the population’s equality, identity, and giftedness?
Daina Kraai // Grand Rapids, MI
Reading The Banner
I really enjoy getting The Banner in the mail with its interesting articles, photos, and displays. I usually take time to finish the reading in one sitting, and then keep it in the magazine rack for deeper perusal later. … I applaud the efforts of the editor and his staff to bring us articles that are germane in today’s world of thought. Blessings in your effective ministry.
George Groen // Thousand Oak, Calif.
Another Take on Racism
I was deeply upset by George Young’s “Another Take on Racism” (October 2020), but more distressed by comments on Facebook and the Banner’s website claiming that anti-Black racism in the U.S. is a matter of “opinion,” and that any critique of that position is “censorship.” I grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. Five members of my immediate family work for the denomination. But I struggle daily to remain a part of an institution whose members delight in ignoring or scoffing at the suffering of people of color in this country. It is heartbreaking to know that many in the church no longer hold the values they raised me with.
Katie Van Zanen // Ann Arbor, Mich.
I wholeheartedly agree with George Young in his article “Another Take on Racism” and why he did not sign the CRC Statement Regarding Systemic Racism. There certainly is racism and wrongdoing in all ethnic groups. ... The CRC should promote love for all ethnic groups, state that there is guilt all around, and support Christians in calling for law and order and God’s love for all.
Dan Hoekema // Grand Rapids, Mich.
(In the) July/August Banner, Rev. Doug Bratt writes, “Very few of the nearly 200 American Protestant sermons I reviewed even mentioned the Holocaust.” (“Combating Anti-Semitism”).… They had the freedom of speech and assembly during the war years but were largely silent. The declaration on war crimes (1942) was front-page news in the U.S. that Jews throughout Europe were being exterminated by the Nazis. In Europe, we did not have this freedom of speech during Hitler's regime for fear of retaliation. Most churches were relatively silent except for Karl Barth. ... Are our American Protestant preachers discreetly silent about racial injustice?
George Lieuwen // Langley, B.C.
I want to thank you for three particular articles in the September 2020 issue: It was inspiring to read of the foresight, patience, and commitment demonstrated by the group of individuals from Eastern Avenue CRC (“From Vacant Lots to Affordable Housing: Church Members Participate in ‘Restoration Row’”). … I was moved to joyful tears to read of the partnership between Dordt College and Hope Haven (“Improving the ‘Kid Chair’ Meant Designing to Constraints”). Finally, thank you to editor Shiao Chong for “Model Kingdom Disciples.” I appreciate that in all your writing you challenge and admonish while always being kind; you probe and question without inciting division; and you call out the problems with the manifestation of Christianity in North America without being sensational. I am glad for your leadership, which consistently calls us to cut through all the busyness of our culture to fix our eyes on Jesus and the way we should live for his kingdom.
Elizabeth Knighton // Columbus, Ohio
I applaud the council of Neland Ave. (CRC) in their decision (“Woman in Same-sex Marriage Installed as Deacon,” November 2020). Will it be a divisive decision? Only if it is allowed to become one. There are too many of our brothers and sisters and sons and daughters who are gay who find the church the last place in which they would be welcome. Where do they go to worship? How do they get to use their gifts in loving obedience to God? I pray for the woman elected as deacon, that she may experience more love and grace than possible rejection and judgment. And I pray for Neland Ave. as they continue to do what Reformed churches are supposed to do: live the gospel in the culture in which we live.
Jim Dykstra // online comment
The most troubling thing about this decision is the blatant disregard for the denominational process. I know it can be slow, but pushing ahead unilaterally with such a divisive decision breaks covenant and hard-earned unity that is already fragile. No one is fooled by the “games” being played using old synodical pronouncements that pastoral advice doesn’t equate with confessional status. Of course not, but we have clear statements about the theological position of the CRC on homosexual issues going back decades and have been struggling with pastoral advice the whole time. I'm so deeply saddened by this move.
Rich deLange // online comment