“With deep sadness for recent violent events in the United States and Canada, we join others in grieving the deaths of Terence Crutcher, Colten Boushie, and many others across the world. These events, in light of our love for Christ, compel us to speak.”
So begins a statement released by the Christian Reformed Church on September 23. It was signed by the seven directors of the CRC’s agencies and educational institutions, as well as by executive director Steven Timmermans; Colin Watson, director of ministries and administration; and Darren Roorda, Canadian ministries director.
The statement continued, “We recognize that we have remained silent about racial injustice and unjust actions in our nations all too frequently.” To that end, denominational leaders called for CRC pastors to preach reconciliation from their pulpits and referred them to resources for preaching and worship from the CRC Office of Race Relations.
Watson said that the denomination has called for prayer for victims of gun violence and police officers in the past, but it has been sporadic and it seems that the number and frequency of events is increasing. “There have also been requests from local church members to make a more proactive denominational statement on these issues plaguing many communities,” he said. “So, in a sense, the idea to publish a statement and to provide a more comprehensive list of resources came as a result of a felt need from many members as well as the increased frequency of racially tinged events.”
The statement also lamented that the CRC has often found unity in shared ethnicity rather than in Christ. Watson said the hope of the signatories is that pastors would “boldly proclaim the unity we have in Christ.”
In addition to grieving those who have died as the result of violence, the statement urged congregations to pray for police officers.
Watson said that having all the leaders sign it rather than having it come only from the executive director’s office was to make the point that “in Christ, we are all bound together in unity. This is something that touches all of us as Christians. It is not the purview of any particular ministry area, or agency, or educational institution. This affects us all as the body of Christ and as a denomination.”
The statement asked churches to share litanies and other elements of worship that were meaningful. Watson said that those would be shared on The Network.