Letters

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Choosing a Church

I moved to a new state and community within the past year, so “Choosing a Church” (February 2007) was especially interesting to me. And though the article did include some helpful suggestions, the focus of the discussion seemed to miss a key point.

In the Fall 2005 Leadership magazine, Brian McLaren noted, “Before asking how a church should look, let’s make sure we’re clear what the church is for. . . . The church exists to be a catalyst for the kingdom of God as a transforming force in the world. This doesn’t minimize worship, evangelism, or making disciples; it puts those elements within their grand purpose.”

While McLaren was writing to church leaders, his comments are valid for any of us seeking a new congregation: our focus should be on God and his sovereignty and how we can further that mission through our own involvement.

—Helen LaackRochester, Minn.

Passing It On

I enjoyed the recent article “Passing It On” (IMHO, January 2006). However, I think there was one incorrect statement included. The article states that the “inactive” membership count in the Christian Reformed Church’s Yearbook includes baptized members out of their teens who have not made profession of faith. But the request for inactive member information for the Yearbook refers only to professing members. I have not found any material that indicates baptized members who do not make profession of faith before age 20 would be considered inactive.

—John BoltDirector of Finance and AdministrationCRCNAGrand Rapids, Mich.

Continuing the Conversation

Thanks for “Women in Office: Continuing the Conversation” articles on Synod 2006’s decisions (January 2007). Brenda Heyink mentions an “argument that women must be ordained in order to use their gifts.” I know of no one who asserts that. I know of many who, with Ms. Heyink, assert that “opportunity and encouragement to use one’s gifts should be given to everyone in the church.” That includes those who are ordained as deacons, elders, and ministers, and those who are not. Synod 1947 began a discussion that 10 years later removed the synodical restriction that prohibited women from voting at congregational meetings. Synod 2007 should remove all synodical restrictions that prohibit women from serving as equal partners in Christ’s kingdom. Synod’s 60-year debate on whether to prevent women from using all their God-given gifts has lasted long enough. Let’s serve and talk together.

—Beth Guikema-BodeGrand Rapids, Mich.

The issue of women’s ordination isn’t going to go away with the calling of a seven-year Sabbath. There is no way to solve the conflict other than address the matter head on and deal with it. This “Sabbath” is tantamount to the church sticking its head in the sand and avoiding the issue. There is no integrity in that.

As for the issue itself, the impasse comes from the very nature of biblical interpretation. For every passage one finds to support the presence of women in church office, another will find a contrary verse. Let us look at the situation from an outside perspective. It is a matter of human rights.

—Kathi Brewer-GouthroFort McMurray, Alberta

Homosexual Loved Ones

As parents of a son who is gay, we appreciated Judy Cook’s response in the FAQ section of the November 2006 issue. We felt her direct encouragement was a very positive suggestion for a most difficult situation. Alternatively, Rev. Hoekstra’s letter in response (January 2007) was disheartening. Although well intentioned, the perceived message he sent was not one of reconciliation between a parent and a child. Rather, it was one that may very well further distance the parents from their son.

Although our journey as parents has often been painful, we know our son’s journey has been equally difficult, if not more so.

—Miriam and Erick JentinkVictoria, British Columbia

As a young gay Christian and lifelong member of the CRC, I rejoiced to read Judy Cook’s answer to the parents regarding their relationship with their gay son. I saw a compassion toward homosexuals that is all too uncommon in the CRC.

I’m afraid I received a dose of reality when I read Rev. Hoekstra’s letter.

Was it assumed that the son was not a Christian himself, since he is gay and in a homosexual relationship? Is it possible that he may be struggling to enmesh his faith with the reality of his sexuality?

It grieves my heart that there is no grace in the CRC for me or any other gay Christian.

—Name withheld

Darfur

Many blessings on your heads for having published “Darfur: The Cost of Silence” (December 2006). Having served with the U.S. Foreign Service in India, Niger, and Uganda, my family and I are only too well aware of the vast, selective ignorance most North Americans—let alone North American Christians—have when it comes to the real struggles of daily living for nearly all people living on the vast African continent. We are very grateful for this and other recent articles that give opportunities for people to deliberately inform themselves of the realities of daily life in such areas. I would like to suggest publishing a few articles to help readers consider how they might prioritize issues if their average life expectancy was 40-45 years, as it is for so many in Africa—at least for those who survive past age 5.

—Albert De Jong

Correction

Regarding “Long Road from Sudan to Africa” (CRC News, January 2007), Rev. Andrew Woja Henry’s work is to bring international people, especially immigrants from Ethiopia and Sudan, into the already existing Worthington (Minn.) CRC. The church strongly desires its membership to reflect the multiethnic and multinational character of its community; it does not intend to plant a separate congregation.

The Banner apologizes for the error.

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