In a recent statement, Steven Timmermans, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, called on parishioners to lament together and work together to end racism.
The statement was issued following months of civil unrest across the United States, starting after Michael Brown, a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, died after being shot by a white police officer, and Eric Garner, a black man, died after being put in a chokehold by police officers in New York.
“These two situations—from initial news reports of the incidents to the outcomes of the grand juries—have led many in the U.S., regardless of race, to come to their own conclusions,” said Timmermans. “My decision to issue the statement wasn’t so much to help folks come to conclusions about the situations, but rather, to frame this in the reality of humanity’s status, for during Advent we take a step back and ask why we can be hopeful. We’re created in God’s image; fallen, and in need of the Word . . . and the Word became flesh—and in that we can place our hope.”
In his “Advent Call to Justice” Timmermans said, “As the body of Christ, when one member suffers, we all suffer. The Christian Reformed Church is a diverse church. . . . Together we lament and together we commit to work toward ending racism.”
Timmermans said he hopes members of the CRC will take a step back from media coverage of these events, whether from CNN, Fox News, or NPR, and “remember the lenses by which we understand ourselves and this hurting world.” He quoted the words from an Advent hymn: “For you, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits; truly my hope is in you.”
The formal statement ended with his prayer that all “find hope that we wait for the One who promises ‘the spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor’” (Luke 4:18-19).
The CRC’s Office of Social Justice also put together resources for use in worship in response to these recent events.