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Synod Coverage

I would like to commend the Banner team for doing an exceptional job of covering Synod 2022 (July/August 2022). As one of the delegates, it is my view that your coverage was fair, accurate, and balanced. Your stories about our intense deliberations, your human interest profiles of some of the delegates and your respectful coverage of the LGBTQ allies who gathered outside the event were all top notch. You fulfilled your mandate of unifying the denomination while honoring our differences.

Geoffrey Vanderburg // Calgary, Alta.

Youth and Hymns

From my interactions with young people at Dordt University, I have learned that many of them appreciate singing hymns, evidenced by organ-led hymn sings initiated by students for the campus community. Students tell me that they are attracted to the beautiful poetry, sound doctrine, well-crafted melodies, and rich harmony of hymns. The use of hip-hop, sampling, and pop as a basis for congregational music presents a multitude of problems. These cultural expressions made popular by solo artists on stage are incredibly difficult for a congregation to emulate. If we value congregational participation in song as a response to God, we need to carefully consider that the music in our worship promotes participation rather than crippling it. What if we introduced our youth to the wealth of sacred music passed on to us by the “great cloud of witnesses”—the classic hymns of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, the sturdy Genevan Psalter, and Lutheran chorales—that have fed the souls of Christians for generations. This feast of sacred music awaits, bountiful and reflective of God’s grace. May we invite the next generation to this lavish banquet!

Carrie Groenewold, associate professor of church music and organ, Dordt University // Sioux Center, Iowa

Thank you for the revealing article by Micah van Dijk (“Why Youth Don’t Like New Worship Songs,” April 2022). Those youths are not alone; their criticisms might even have played a part in the decision of some to leave the denomination. Early Psalter Hymnal pages instruct us what in our worship services constitutes biblical and confessional text, as well as what is liturgically appropriate music for any new song to be introduced. Would it therefore not be a good thing for every congregation to strike a music committee that in its meetings checks any current or new song to be introduced against these guidelines? There are many fine praise songs. … Worship songs that relate to our youth—nay, to all of us—would do well should they follow in their composition the guidelines of the Psalter Hymnal and in spirit the tenets of the book of Psalms.

Frank DeVries // Surrey, B.C.

America and Canada

I highly commend Peter Schuurman’s article “A Letter to our American Partners: Canada as a Distinct Ministry” (April 2022). It lays out in logical and meaningful detail the realities we face in this David and Goliath relationship. Recognizing us (the Christian Reformed Church in Canada) as “a distinct culture with a distinct way of doing ministry” gives me hope that we will listen and be open to celebrate our faith in harmony without seeing the world through the same lenses.

Mary Kooy // Toronto, Ont.

I am very disappointed with Peter Schuurman’s premise that the Canadian way of doing ministry is different from the U.S. way. Peter attempted to point out that Canadian culture is different from the U.S. one. I would agree if there were one monolithic culture in each country. I have observed that each country has a number of subcultures in it. So which Canadian culture is Peter referring to? In the article he describes how each country is politically and sociologically different. I agree, but what does that have to do with ministry differences? The CRC churches in my city are politically and sociologically different from other CRC churches in my state—vastly different in some cases. The churches in those unique cultures need to find unique ways to minister. I am not up on the differences and tensions between countries about CRC governance, but that has nothing to do with the way individual CRC churches minister to their communities.

Phil Quist // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Speak Life

In Rod Hugen’s article "I Made Him Cry," the repairman didn’t cry because he received an $18 tip. Rather, he cried because Rod said some kind words that resonated with him. This theme reminds me of Toby Mac’s song “Speak Life.” The chorus goes, “Speak life, speak life / when the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why. / Look into the eyes of the broken-hearted; / watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope. / You speak love, you speak life.” We all need to hear words of hope, love, and encouragement. Rod’s article is a great reminder that I should speak life to those around me.

Dan Dekker // Hudsonville, Mich.

Diversity in the CRC

I just read several articles in The Banner of May 2022 and was very pleased. We should work on our problems considering what happened in Buffalo and around this country with the multiple racist attacks on creatures that God created. I stand in shock that people think they are so much better than others that they have the authority to kill them. The good articles start with the editorial by Shiao Chong and go on to the very wonderful articles “Covenantal Communication in a Polarized Culture,” “Rhythms of Justice and Mercy,” and particularly “Ethnic Diversity and the CRC.” I do thank God for creating diversity; now we need to deal with our sins, and this is laid out well in the editorial and by David R. Koll.

Pamela Adams // Sioux Center, Iowa

A Right Heart

I just want you to know how very much I appreciate your editorials, including the latest one on orthocardia—having a right heart (June 2022). You are always so fair and balanced, yet original with new insights that forge a path out of our polarization. I’ve also appreciated the series on “Seeking Shalom in the Midst of Polarization.” Every article was right on and just what we need to hear in these times.  

Joyce Ribbens Campbell // Greenbelt, Md.

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