Reply All: February 2022

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No One Ever Talked About It

I read the column by John Bernbaum with much interest because something similar happened to us (“No One Ever Talked About It,” November 2021). The year was 1971, and my husband applied for a teaching position at Eastern Christian High School. We moved to New Jersey around the same time as the Timothy-Lawndale controversy was taking place in Cicero. (A group of Black families attending local Christian Reformed churches asked to enroll their children at Timothy Christian High School. The board delayed most of the enrollments until it could complete a campus in a more tolerant neighborhood, and white residents harassed the school for the few Black students it did enroll.) Not growing up in the CRC, we did not have a hint of it. We entered our adopted Black child and our two biological white children in school when they were kindergarten age, and they had a number of Black children in their school. But it was years before we heard about the Timothy exclusion of Black children. We have always supported integration but are baffled by this break with biblical norms. 

Pamela Adams // Sioux Center, Iowa

Light in the Darkness

The December 2021 editorial, “Light in the Darkness,” reported disturbing statistics of theological confusion. I appreciated our editor’s words of encouragement as well as his call to action: “But let us also grow deeper in our Christian faith and wiser in navigating the world.”  One small way The Banner can help in this regard is to include in every issue a segment that clearly teaches the truths of our confessions. This would also help unify the CRC. The Banner must continue to enlighten us on controversial issues, but it would be beneficial to have one page to remind us of the truths we all confess.

Doug Aldrink // Dublin, Ohio

We Are the Church

We are the church,” says Colin P. Watson Sr. in his inspiring article in The Banner (November 2021). … Due to the COVID pandemic, our Celebration Fellowship Church services and Calvin (University) Prison Initiative classes at the Richard Handlon Ionia prison were temporarily canceled, but like Paul, we gathered anyway to share the Word, sing hymns, and continue in our college studies in our small confined yard. Even in the midst of this troublesome environment, God’s presence created a stronger body of Reformed men without a brick building. God used the faithful prayers and corresponding encouragements from school staff and our institutional chaplain, who supported us to press forward. When college classes and partial church services resumed, a renewed realization arose for the CPI program in how we were equipped to be leaders, teachers, caregivers for fellow prisoners, prison culture changers, and (servants) for those God will lead us to serve one day beyond prison walls. 

John Halcomb // Richard Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Mich.

Editorials

We wish to thank you for your editorials. We find them topical and thought provoking, and certainly educational. As our society is becoming more polarized and opinionated, we need to be reminded of Jesus’ directives in our lives.

Rudy and Rita Bot // Abbotsford, B.C.

I am an avid reader of The Banner, though not a member of the CRC. My husband and I are active members of the United Methodist Church in Modesto, Calif., and in Bigfork, Mont., living half the year in each place. I grew up in the CRC and believe that the best thing your church does is publish The Banner. It is a stellar magazine, by far the best in my opinion. I subscribe to many Christian magazines, but my day stops when The Banner arrives. I grab an apple and fall on the latest issue, reading it cover to cover. You and I have many conversations even though you are never present. I remark, critique, and answer your columns, wishing I could hear your replies.

Mary Swier Bolhuis // Ripon, Calif.

Refugees

Thank you for including Kurt Rietema’s article “A Massacre in Bethlehem” in the December 2021 Banner. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees there are over 82 million persons who have been forced to flee their homes due to natural or man-made disasters, or 26 million people for each U.N.-operated refugee camp. The world’s richest countries are hosting only about 14% of these, and though the U.S. has long been a leader in providing new homes for refugees, during the past five years our commitment has fallen to record-low levels. Rietema’s account is a wonderful reminder that these people are our neighbors and that we are failing them.

Frank Barefield // Holland, Mich.

Four Weddings

God bless you, Pastor Rod Hugen, for your wisdom and servant’s heart in conducting the four weddings of your bank friends (“Four Weddings,” December 2021). Reading your account convinced me again that evangelism is simply sharing the Word of God by one’s words, deeds, and Christ-like attitude of service to others, regardless of their backgrounds or motivations.

Kenneth Vander Horst // Smithers, B.C.

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