In the June 2013 Banner, a Canadian member of the Christian Reformed Church argued that it’s time for the CRC in Canada to stand on its own.
I came to Canada in 1948. The very first person to meet us at the train in Edmonton, Alberta, and take us to the immigration hall was Herman Wierenga, a Northern Alberta “field man.” He arranged to have us picked up for church on Sunday. And since we were sponsored by family in Neerlandia, he arranged to send us on to Neerlandia.
Field men like Weirenga and other home missionaries—except the local pastors of the pioneer churches in Edmonton, Neerlandia, and Lacombe—were employed by and paid by Home Missions of the Christian Reformed Church.
Last week I visited the grave of Herman Wierenga. He was killed, along with an immigrant family, in a car accident. I told my son, “Herman died in the line of duty working for immigration and for the Christian Reformed Church.” Most postwar families and single persons who immigrated to Canada at that time were helped by people like Herman Wierenga who were working for the church.
The CRC spent many thousands of dollars to start and maintain new churches in Canada. It would be interesting to see just how much that was: the total cost of ministers, field men, and travel during that wave of immigration. I do know that immigrant churches did not and were not expected to pay full denominational ministry shares.
How could a separated Canadian church ever maintain and pay for the ministries of the CRC, including Calvin College and Seminary, Home Missions, and World Missions by themselves?
For those of us in western Canada and elsewhere who have experienced what the CRC in North America has done for churches in Canada—including sending U.S. pastors to help—it seems appalling even to discuss separation from the CRCNA. We could not have become the church we are without it.
There is an incomparable difference between the people of Israel who were in bondage in Egypt wanting to return to the Promised Land and the postwar Dutch immigrants who made their way to Canada. The CRCNA did everything possible to help people like me find homes, jobs, and local congregations. Canadian members of the CRC are not in bondage to anything or anyone.
We Canadians are not just friends with the other members of our denomination in the United States—we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
If there are across-the-border problems, we should be able to overcome them by working together. Other churches may have similar problems. Let’s begin by finding out how they have resolved them.
Other articles you may be interested in:
Editorial: Two-in-One for the Three-in-One
Imagining Ministry in the CRC in Canada
Why Being a Binational Church is So Important
Canadian Forum Causes Both Appreciation and Frustration
January Conference to Address Canadian Role in Binational Church
Director of Canadian Ministry Resigns
NETWORK: Forum on Denominational Structure