Rev. Bob De Moor informed the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church this week of his intent to retire as editor of The Banner effective end of August 2015 to go from half time to full time parish ministry at West End Christian Reformed Church in Edmonton, Alberta. The Banner is the official publication of the CRC.
“I’m definitely anticipating being back full time in the pastorate,” De Moor said in an interview. “It was my first love, and it still is.”
De Moor has led The Banner as editor in chief since 2004 after a year as the interim editor. Since 2006 he has divided his time between The Banner and his role as pastor of preaching and administration at West End.
De Moor has shared his role at West End with copastor Gordon Pols. It is Pols’s impending retirement from his role that prompted the West End council to request that DeMoor work full time now for West End. “It was understood from the beginning that I would eventually be full time at West End,” DeMoor said, “and with Gord’s retirement, the council felt this would be a good time.”
De Moor has been under fire for much of the past year for controversial articles published in The Banner, which culminated with Synod 2014 lamenting the publication of those articles and De Moor apologizing on the floor of synod for how the articles were presented.
However, De Moor said, his retirement from The Banner has nothing to do with that. “I wanted to see that through,” De Moor said. “I also wanted to see The Banner put in a good place in the denominational restructuring, and I believe it has found that place.”
Rev. Joel Boot, who served as the denomination’s executive director until this past summer, expressed appreciation for De Moor’s work. “We are very grateful to Bob for his years of service, but also for remaining at the editor’s desk during this recent ‘storm,’” he said. “It is a gift to the magazine, to the denomination, and to his successor that he acknowledged mistakes, made changes, and saw us through to a better understanding and reconciliation and to continued thoughtful consideration of the issues.”
The Banner has been through many changes during De Moor’s tenure. When he came on board, the magazine was a subscription-based, biweekly print magazine with a static website that mirrored the content in the print issue. It has since moved to a monthly magazine distributed to every household in the denomination with changes in format. Articles are now shorter and more varied because of the larger and wider readership The Banner serves. The magazine launched a new website in 2011 and continues to look for new ways to communicate digitally. De Moor said that the magazine needs to continue moving forward into other environments such as social media. “Now that people communicate in other environments, The Banner needs to be there as well.”
Steven Timmermans, the CRC’s new executive director, noted The Banner’s long history of informing, encouraging, and challenging the church. “During his 11 years as editor, Bob has helped to write the most recent chapter of The Banner’s history, and I'm exceedingly grateful for the gifts he has shared with us.”
As he prepares to take his leave from the magazine, De Moor expressed the hope that The Banner would continue to be the kitchen table of the CRC, and that more people—those who are on the periphery and younger people—would be drawn to that table.
He noted that The Banner and the CRC as a whole need to tackle the hard issues, to find ways to bless one another and help each other grow. “I do believe that we need to become more humble about what we understand Scripture to actually mean,” he said. “We fully believe the Bible is God’s Word, but we must realize that both our interpretation of Scripture and our understanding of creation are human works, fallible human works, so we need a greater humility. We need to become more charitable, listen more carefully to each other, and do a better job communicating with each other in a way that is useful.”
“I continue to love the CRC,” he said. “And I hope the church will continue to grow and thrive and will be able to stay together, particularly when we face difficult issues—that we will hold on to each other, celebrate what unites us rather than complain about what divides us.”
He also had a word of advice for his successor: “You need to have a thick skin, but you cannot be calloused. You have to let it hurt a little bit. The truth spoken in love can still hurt.”
The Board of Trustees mandated its executive committee to begin the search for an interim editor of The Banner. An interim editor would serve until a new editor is appointed by Synod 2016. A nominee is expected to be appointed by the Board in February 2015 for ratification by Synod 2015.
After De Moor leaves The Banner, he’ll have approximately 16 months until he plans to retire from ministry in December 2016. And after that? “I have no idea,” he said. “In God’s good time I’ll find out.”
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