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Removing Bethany Christian Services
Bethany Christian Services has partnered with Christian Reformed churches for more than 75 years to be the hands and feet of Christ to the most vulnerable children and families. (“Bethany Christian Services No Longer Recommended for Offerings,” online.) The denomination has been a wonderful partner in Bethany’s mission to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus. I was disappointed to learn that Bethany was removed from the list of recommended charities for CRC churches because of their decision to take an “all hands on deck” approach to meeting the needs of children. Bethany’s job is to determine if a family can provide a safe, stable home for children, not to interpret theology. This is a monumental task and should be left to the church. As evidenced by the CRC Council of Delegates’ close vote (23-21), the conversation within the denomination is nuanced. Bethany will continue praying for the CRC and working alongside CRC churches.
Garth Deur // Bethany board chair, 2016-18
I applaud Andrea Meszaros for her honest portrayal of the devastation school-based bullying causes (“The Trauma of Bullying,” April 2021). During my career, I’ve heard many of these traumatic stories. Why didn’t a caring adult step in to help her years ago? As a Christian mental health professional who recognizes the integration of one’s mind, body, and spirit, I value each shared account, and yet am intensely angered by these intentionally negative peer behaviors.
I am very thankful you saw your pastor as trustworthy and secure and chose to share your pain with him, but also that he had the insight and skills needed to help comfort and address your long-standing sorrow, distress, and brokenness. Continue with God’s perspective for Andrea: “You are loved; you are safe; you are accepted.”
You are also bearing fruit by sharing your story of hope.
Paulene Kamps // Calgary, Alta.
I greatly enjoyed your essay “How to ‘Argue’ Christianly” (May 2021). After 76 years of living, I continue to learn the joy that comes from being willing to listen to those with whom I disagree, to state simply and quietly “I disagree” when that’s the case, and, when the other person shows interest, to try to explain myself to be understood, not win points. Thanks for your interesting review of this issue.
Frank Barefield // Holland, Mich.
Words of Life or Death
Thank you for your May editorial. Words make a difference, and all of us must continue to work at inclusion. It is important in Alabama, Michigan, and all over!
Vern and Karen Steenwyks // Pelham, Ala.
It Is Well
The article "It Is Well" in the April 26, 2021, issue was one of the most beautiful articles in The Banner that I have read in a long time. That great hymn is deeply moving and reflects many memories of loved ones who are no longer here. This hymn powerfully shows our faith. The author is right that we never know how our Christian witness is influencing others. We are so thankful that her brother could have had a significant part in the worship services in his church. May God bless those young people who go to the nursing home with their beautiful music.
Charles Veenstra // Sioux Center, Iowa
Thank you for articles in the May issue that help us to speak the truth in love. “How to ‘Argue’ Christianly” and “Wanted: Volunteers for Crucifixion” suggest better listening, slow speaking, forbearance instead of revenge, and Jesus’ model as the standard for gentleness. Whether in person or online, may we continue to grow in such directions.
Shirley Roels, Ph.D. // Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thanks for the May issue, which contained a remarkable amount of wisdom from numerous writers. Some who particularly impressed me: Shiao Chong on disagreeing graciously, Frank and David De Haan on a faithful response to climate change, Patty Hoezee Meyer on the falsehoods underlying "all lives matter," Matt Lundberg on the moral peril of gun ownership, Karen Wilk on the insufficiency of correct belief for Christian faith, and Mike Wagenman on legitimate reasons for our beliefs to change. Like letter writer Josh Schatzle, I hope this kind of full-orbed evangelical Christianity will spread more widely from our denomination's leadership into local churches.
James Leunk // Rochester, N.Y.
It sounds like the latest Council of Delegates meeting had long and intense discussions about how to restructure, especially as it involves one denomination trying to work together while being of two countries. With emotions high and solutions difficult, maybe it’s time we hear God’s voice and be open to doing things differently. Two leadership structures of the same denomination running beside each other instead of with each other can be OK. Forcing this to work will never work. Remember to let God lead us into paths we never thought possible, even the path of being the same denomination while structured differently in two countries.
Judy De Wit // Sioux Falls, S.Dak.
During my whole working career I was with only two CRCNA agencies: World Missions and Home Missions. Some of my colleagues agree that every time there were “problems,” the answer was “restructure.” Personnel and budget and programs kept shrinking. Now that is happening at the very denominational level. So I agree ... that the answer must lie elsewhere, namely in spiritual renewal and revival. Let’s pray.
Rev. Lou Wagenveld // Holland, Mich.