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New York’s Tree of Hope

Yesterday I read the article “New York City’s Tree of Hope” (December 2005). What a beautiful story and a beautiful telling of it. The graphics were well done too. Thank you for telling us about St. Paul’s. Your story blessed me.—Kenneth Battjes, Livonia, Mich.

Giving Guidelines Needed

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a given that our mailboxes will be full of year-end solicitations. This seems especially true for members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, since we are blessed with so many mission-driven organizations. Last year, for example, we received year-end donation requests from 51 church-related charitable organizations.

Increasingly, this is turning into quite a quandary as many, like us, must struggle to decide exactly where to direct our year-end giving. The listing of denominational agencies and synodically approved organizations inside the cover of the December Banner was interesting, but it did little to help us sort out how to direct our support. Any denominational direction or coordination of the agencies’ fundraising activities appears to be lacking.

Although we realize there’s no simple answer, we’d like to challenge the denominational leadership to come up with some more concrete guidelines for giving.—Burt VanderLaan, Orland Park, Ill.

Christian School’s Tough Decision

I was disturbed by your news article “Christian Student Expelled for Parent’s Lifestyle” (November 2005). In the whole article I read nothing about what was done in the interest of the child concerned, or whether that was even taken into consideration. Once a child has been accepted in a school, his or her welfare ought to be the primary consideration. As a retired teacher, I am fully aware of the hurt we can do to a child by making these types of decisions. Will the child feel rejected? Will she be turned off by the church and the gospel? And what about the millstone of Matthew 18? Why can’t the school admit an error of judgment and leave it at that?—Tena Venema, Abbotsford, British Columbia

I had two reasons for granting an interview with The Banner regarding the Ontario (Calif.) Christian School admissions issue.

First, I hoped The Banner article would warn Christian schools to think about their expectations of parents, to be prepared with policies, and to be prepared with a plan for implementation. I’m proud of the work accomplished by the Ontario Christian School board, administrative team, and faculty in adopting the “Model Christian School” form of governance and operations that was critical to our response.

Second, I hoped The Banner would support covenant Christian schooling and the Christian schools’ rights to exercise a policy requiring at least one parent to be a Christian in confession and lifestyle.

I was concerned that the mainstream media would push the story as a civil rights issue for homosexuals, rather than as an issue of the rights of Christian schools to establish policies that allow them to consistently accomplish their mission.

In contrast to the article’s headline—because the real issue is that the family does not meet the criteria for admissions—I have been careful to explain that the school did not “expel” the girl whose mother is living in a lesbian relationship.

In this article all of my concerns were realized; my hopes were not.—Leonard Stob, Superintendent Ontario (Calif.) Christian Schools

Give China Credit

Thank you for the fine Banner issue of September 2005.

I’d like to point out a small yet significant error in the item about the Gutenberg Bible (p. 35). Both moveable type and the printing press were in use in China by the year 1086. Due to the lack of communication between the East and West, this information never reached beyond the borders of China (The Genius of China, a distillation of the works of Joseph Needham by Robert Temple, first published in 1986).—Leo J. Hoogerhyde

Watch Those Recommendations

It was called to my attention that a rather profane book was reviewed in the June 2005 Banner. Mary D. Russell’s tome A Thread of Grace includes a great deal of profanity, besides a litany of gutter talk and some sexually explicit rape depictions. The book is a World War II novel, so the author would probably point out that soldiers swear, but I feel the book did not deserve a review in The Banner, especially one that praised it.—John K. Hoffman, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Editor’s note: Thanks for the note. We’ll try to do better at warning readers of potentially offensive material.


Classis Central California allows women as elders and deacons in its constituent churches and has also voted to allow women elder delegates at meetings of classis, even though the classis voted not to change the Church Order article that would officially permit these changes. The Banner regrets the editing error in the December 2005 issue (p. 16).