Let Us Go Forth

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We could not have become the church we are without the CRCNA.

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

About the Author

Adrien de Jong is a member of First Christian Reformed Church in Red Deer, Alberta

See comments (2)


As per Adrien de Jong's comments: I believe that the CRC in the US and Canada ought not to be encouraged to separate. There is a new movement a-foot. Our cultures are simultaneously undergoing an economic reformation. Our North American "business activities" are becoming increasingly hierarchical with fewer and fewer corporations at the 'top' with the aid of computerization . This will no doubt have significant effect upon labour and educational preparations. In addition, fewer and fewer learners may be confused as to what to do next. A continual societal evolution increases more so. Then there are vast advances in environmental "greening". Correspondingly, let us forget the increasing challenges for the church as belief-speculations and family-breakdowns and divorces and income-weaknesses and environmental tragedies and communications transform as well entertainment receiving new credit...all these increase ...plus more. I believe that church denominations will grow closer and closer together to meet the needs that are increasingly encountered. This movement has already begun in education (all levels), food banks, clothing drives, pulpit exchange, marriage composition, employment assist, psychological/sociological support, congregational make-up, inter-congregational celebrations, etc-etc . In short, denominational hierarchies are becoming smaller and smaller. In the meantime economic hierarchies are growing and growing. Over the past 300-500 years there has been a complete role-reversal. What could a Christian-community response be to this 'role-reversal'? I can only suspect ...tbc...

Respectfully, the US did much to help set up the CRC in Canada.  What Adrien de Jong described is true. However, it is time for the Canadian side of the denomination to be completely independent of the US. In order for each side of the denomination to speak prophetically in our own contexts, we cannot first bow to an unworkable idea of binationality.  Any discussion of this at synod, any vote on it will always have a much larger US side out-voting the smaller Canadian side.  All promises for a parallel structure have shown this to be true (as when we Canada lost the CCRCC),  Shalom. Richard