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Synod 2008

Thanks for the thorough and balanced coverage of synod. What a rich denomination we are part of! As a longtime Chicago Cubs fan, I was delighted to see the photo of Rev. Reginald Smith sporting a Cubs cap. Here’s hoping the Cubs keep winning and capture their first World Series title in 100 years.

—David BaconVancouver, British Columbia

For the most part, I was pleased with the way Synod 2008 made its decisions. But unfortunately, the one issue that sticks out to me was the approval of the revised Contemporary Testimony. In some ways, the revision committee did a very good job. But in some very important ways, it failed terribly, and unfortunately, synod allowed it to do so.

The revised CT now has weakened our understanding of the doctrine of election, it failed to define marriage clearly as a covenant between one man and one woman, it failed to declare homosexual practice an example of the brokenness of sexuality in our culture, and it wrongly (in my opinion) placed the blame for climate change on humanity.

Thankfully, as I see it, this was the only letdown of Synod 2008. Regrettably, this will be a mistake that will remain with us for another 20 years.

—Jeff VoorheesDrenthe, Mich.

Your report “Highs and Lows of a Historic Synod” speaks of “foisting a committee’s product on synod at the last minute”; it does not comment on content but only on process, and that you misunderstand.

The facts are, briefly, that the churches were asked for suggestions in March 2006; responded to a provisional revision from Dec. 1, 2006, to Jan. 14, 2007; and were asked to comment by September 2007. The revision committee noted and used those comments and got the draft to the Christian Reformed Church’s Board of Trustees in February 2008. The draft was then placed on the denomination’s website  (www.crcna.org) in March, and printed in the Agenda for Synod 2008 at the normal time. Where’s the foisting?

There is a time crunch for churches, delegates, and committees as documents move through various levels of church government. But this is where the Internet has been so helpful in prompting churches and delegates to begin their study of major items well before synod meets.

—Rev. Morris GreidanusChairContemporary Testimony Revision Committee

It struck me that synod rushed through a confessional piece [the Contemporary Testimony] yet postponed the Form of Subscription, an organizational matter. Do we have our priorities right?

In connection with synod’s decision to cut formal ties with the [Protestant Church in the Netherlands], I wonder if the ecumenical charter, “which does not allow for such distinctions,” is not too narrowly worded. Compare Jesus’ words about the Sabbath: man wasn’t made for the Sabbath but the other way around. The charter was made for the church, not the other way around. Legalism doesn’t serve the church well; it never has.

—Bert den BoggendeBrooks, Alberta

Broadening Synod?

With regard to the editorial of June 2008, you mention women being involved at synod and you mention that youth should be there. Why would you not include deacons?

—John Klein-GeltinkIngersoll, Ontario

I certainly would include deacons.

—BDM

Abuse Prevention

Although we as a denomination talk about the importance of abuse prevention, abuse education, and addressing allegations (July 2008, p. 33), I wonder if it’s only that: talk. Fewer than half of the classes have abuse response teams, just over half of CRC churches have child safety policies, and I question if the churches that have policies have them fully implemented. Why does there have to be a victim before churches wake up and realize that abuse is real?

 —Judy De Wit
Minneapolis, Minn.

Bible Reading

I was thrilled and thankful to read “Getting Past Good Intentions” (July 2008). A large and daily dose of the Scripture is certainly needed in our lives, and the discipline of daily reading is crucial for Christian maturing or discipleship.

But the article got me thinking. Is it possible that the lack of deep spiritual life and vitality in the CRC is due to the fact that so many in the CRC do not daily read the Book of Life?

As Scripture says: the Word of God is not just nice, good, important, or hip to read—it is our very life (Deut. 32:47).  

—Rev. Johannes SchoutenBurnaby, British Columbia

Rehoboth Cemetery

Dr. Schaap’s article “Rehoboth Cemetery: A Pilgrimage in New Mexico” (June 2008) was so accurate and so well done.

My husband and I have worked at Rehoboth on three separate occasions, and my parents were missionaries in Rehoboth many years ago. It is a place where I can get in touch with my past. The cemetery is my favorite place. I can identify so many of the people buried there, people that this article speaks of.

We’ve seen the toys, the journals, the makeshift crosses and plastic flowers. We’ve seen the wild horses and snakes. We’ve wandered around and celebrated the lives of the missionaries and grieved over the children who died too soon. Twice we climbed that “sandstone rock on the hill to the east,” known by us as Resurrection Rock, and carved our names into it. We’ve walked among the crosses of the “unknowns” and have wondered about their lives.

—Theda WilliamsCharlevoix, Mich.

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