Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) is now called World Renew. Synod 2012 approved a name change for the Christian Reformed Church’s relief and development agency, but not without debate, and the vote was not unanimous.
The name change is needed to better reflect the work of the agency, according to its report. The tagline “Living justice, Loving mercy, Serving Christ” will be included with the name, unless the board of CRWRC votes to change it.
Rev. Michael Vander Laan, Classis Toronto: “Don’t take Christian Reformed out of the name.”
Photo: Karen Huttenga
“Continuing to include Christian Reformed in the name of the organization creates and implies a limitation in terms of participation and scope of work,” stated CRWRC’s report to synod. “Relief only touches the surface of what CRWRC is about. Also . . . in some cultures the idea of receiving relief is insulting . . . [and] use of the term committee is no longer accurate and presents confusion especially to our funding partners.”
“I [was] quite skeptical about the name change and I [am now] incredibly convinced,” said Rev. Tom Van Engen, Classis Heartland. “We’re told to be known by our works, and that was the emphasis of what I heard.”
Many who learned more about the reasons for the name change became convinced once they learned more, said Rev. Ken Benjamins, reporter for the committee that studied the issue.
Some delegates argued that it was a loss not to include the word “Christian" in the name. One delegate moved to change the name to “Christian Reformed World Renew,” but the motion was defeated.
“The reason we have the CRWRC right now is not so the organization can do the relief and development, it’s so that my congregation can do the relief and development. Don’t take Christian Reformed out of the name,” said Rev. Michael Vander Laan, Classis Toronto.
Some delegates raised the issue that there is a publication called “World Renew” that seeks to bring young people back to the Roman Catholic church. Delegates from areas dominated by Roman Catholic people worried about the confusion could cause.
But agency staff said the name was needed to build partnerships with other agencies and denominations, and even to gain access to some areas of the world. “The name World Renew does allow us entry into places that we would otherwise not be allowed.” said Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo, Canadian director for the agency. “We don’t lose our Christian faith by what we’re called.”
About the Author
Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who claims both Canadian and American citizenship and grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. She is a member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina.