From Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island, from Alaska to Texas, from Los Angeles to New York City, in Belgium and in Indonesia, they sang. Nearly 300 congregations, Christian Reformed and many others, with membership of around 97,000 souls, declared that their hope is found “In Christ Alone,” using the words of the song by Keith and Kristyn Getty.
Tim Bosma with his newborn daughter two years ago.
It was the murder of Tim Bosma, a member the Ancaster (Ont.) CRC, that drew together so many Christians from far and wide.
For many churches across Canada, last week began with prayer in public worship for the safe return of Bosma, 32, nearly a week after he was abducted while taking two men for a test drive of the pick-up truck he was trying to sell.
Hundreds helped in the search. Prayer vigils were held. Media coverage was constant and intense. But the outcome no one wanted came on Tuesday when police announced that they had found his remains. Bosma leaves behind his wife, Sharlene, and a 2-year-old daughter.
That was when Heidi De Jonge, pastor of Westside Fellowship CRC in Kingston, Ontario, wrote to fellow CRC pastors after a conversation with Westside’s worship director, Jennifer Feenstra-Shaw. “In some ways, a lot of us wish we could be with our brothers and sisters in Ancaster on Sunday,” she wrote. “We are inviting you all to consider setting aside a ‘moment of solidarity’ in your services this Sunday. They will be singing ‘In Christ Alone’ at Ancaster CRC. And so will we. Please consider this opportunity to grieve and worship with them in solidarity.”
Consider they did. As the idea gained momentum through social media, the numbers of people indicating on The Banner’s Facebook page that their church would be singing “In Christ Alone” on Sunday grew by the hour.
It wasn’t just churches. At a Bible study group in Costa Rica, at classis meetings around Ontario, at the Calvin Theological Seminary board meeting, at the All Ontario Youth Convention, at a family reunion in Alberta, people sang in support of the Bosmas and Ancaster CRC.
Lisa Weverink Dekok wrote, “We will be camping this weekend. Tim and Sharlene were also booked to join us. We’ll be singing and praying at the campground with a small group from Ancaster CRC.”
John Veenstra is the transitional pastor at Ancaster CRC. He said the congregation and the family are aware of the movement. “It’s a wonderful gesture of solidarity, and people are glad to hear it,” he said. “There is sustaining power of so many people remembering us.”
On Wednesday, May 22, there will be a public memorial service for Bosma. Because the church is not large enough to hold the expected number of attendees, the service will be held in a Hamilton banquet hall, the same one where Tim and Sharlene Bosma had their wedding reception three years ago.