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Coffee Shop Confusion

I appreciated the excellent and important article “Does Your Church Have the Right to Exist?” (April 2009).

However, I would like to correct a detail that has been repeatedly misrepresented: the relationship between the Common Cup coffee shop and Many Peoples Church in Chicago (see “Coffee and Connections in a Chicago Suburb,” December 2007).

In the April 2009 article, Rev. Jul Medenblik rightly recognizes the ministry of John and Ruth Hoekwater as a good example of a church’s community engagement and service. Rather than a ministry of Many Peoples Church, however, their coffee shop is a for-profit business that is in no way financed by either the CRC or Many Peoples Church.

The Hoekwaters have made significant sacrifices in order to answer what they felt was God’s call for their lives in Chicago. They deserve to be recognized and supported for this. Let’s not mislead readers that such a “tentmaking” venture as the Common Cup must be organized by the church in order to legitimately enact the church’s mission.

—Sara VanderHaagenChicago, Ill.

Singles in the CRC

When I read “What If We Don’t Focus on the Family?” (February 2009), I felt like high five-ing someone. I am single and almost 40 years old (gasp!). I have never been married and I don’t have any children. I never expected to hit this age and not be married with 2.5 children and a pet of some kind. But my life didn’t turn out that way.  

I want to say a huge “thank you” to my family and friends for believing that it is OK to be single. Even my church family is great about it. I have many married and single friends, and being single really isn’t an issue at all.

I’d like to see more articles like this to encourage the single/divorced people within our reach and let them know that life is good and to trust in the plan that God has for them.

 —Kari DeRaaf
Lethbridge, Alberta

We can be a hard group to figure out, but as one single I say thanks for the effort!

—Katelyn BangmaGrand Rapids, Mich.


The continued discussion online about the Haarsmas’ article “Speaking of Evolution” (February 2009), presents an interesting ratio. One letter asks for a clearer CRC stand on the matter, and another mistakenly says that only four Christian institutions give geology degrees (more do). Meanwhile, 11 letters challenge the Haarsmas’ claims and/or provide credible alternatives to their suggestion that biblical and evolutionary thinking can be harmonized.  Meanwhile, the April 2009 Banner printed two letters that supported the Haarsmas’ position and only one that refuted it. Was this Banner bias to readers’ reactions or just poor math? An issue this important deserves proportional treatment.

—Michael DuMez
Oostburg, Wis.

Good point, Michael. The Banner tries to print a fair representation of letters in response to articles. In this case, many of the 11 letters you cite came in after our deadline for the April print magazine, and we saved others so we could give them more room on our website that month. —Ed.


It is with sadness and dismay that I read of your proposal to open again the discussion on our church’s understanding of homosexuality (“What’s to Discuss?” March 2009). Although not altogether unexpected, I fear we are headed further down the path toward the acceptance of homosexual activity among our members and, eventually, clergy. I know that usually when things get “discussed,” that means bringing us closer to the norms of our culture, never more in harmony with the truth of God’s Word.

—Barbara VissRipon, Calif.

It seems to me that one of the marks of “strong faith and Christian maturity” is to have victory over sin. . . . Would the solution to the problem of men who cannot commit to one woman be a committed polygamous relationship (assuming everyone is consenting)? Of course not.

Since less than 5 percent of the population is homosexual, most of us have difficulty relating to the temptation. Part of the solution is to invite the dialogue of those who have successfully dealt with it. At the very least we ought to have the humility to accept that there is lots of sin going on within the heterosexual community. There is a need for compassion, yes, but certainly not to accept defeat.

—Len PrinsChatham, Ontario

I very much appreciated the agony displayed in the article by Rev. Michael Veenema about himself and his gay son. I also deeply appreciated the editorial on homosexuality by Rev. Bob De Moor  in the same issue. Yes, let’s talk.

I believe for a further discussion we should begin by referring to Article 47 of our Contemporary Testimony, “Our World Belongs to God.” Instead of singling out homosexuality as a “result of humanity’s fallen condition,” we should begin by stating, as Article 47 says, that “sexuality is disordered in our fallen world.” We need to talk about all sexuality, and from there we can talk about homosexuality.

—Simon WolfertSurrey, British Columbia

I am fearful for the gay children of the CRC because I don’t see our current policies and behavior as enfolding them into our church. We expect sexual behavior from them that we require of no other straight children. But my biggest fear is that they will see themselves as rejected by God. Yes, we must continue the discussion.

—Sheryl Rice Mulder
Grand Rapids, Mich.


I am relatively new to the denomination (I was drawn in while studying at the Institute for Christian Studies a few years back), and one thing that has kept me in the Christian Reformed Church is the dedication to quality thought, writing, and discussion, which you reflect so well in The Banner. I am so impressed with the willingness of people (and this publication) to consistently take on hard issues and discuss them with genuine openness and humility. It is so refreshing to be part of a community that holds fast to its convictions and, at the same time, is willing to entertain the notion that it might have gotten things wrong from time to time. Blessings on you as you do this hard but important work.

—Tanya DeRooSt. Catharines, Ontario

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