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CRC Directors Sign Statements on Poverty, Racism, Refugees

Steven Timmermans, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, joined more than 100 Christian faith leaders from across the United States in sending a letter to U.S. president Donald Trump and the United States Congress, urging them to protect vulnerable immigrants. The letter was published in a full page ad in the Washington Post.

The letter committed to praying for elected leaders, particularly that those leaders not forget 700,000 Dreamers (young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children), refugees, persecuted Christians, and families waiting for reunification. “We are troubled by the dramatic reduction in arrivals of refugees, which declined from 96,874 in 2016 to just 33,368 in 2017.”

It also called on the government to welcome Christians facing persecution in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, as well as refugees of other faiths. “Admission of Christian refugees to the U.S. from these three countries has declined by 60 percent,” the letter stated.

The letter was organized by World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Timmermans also signed the Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty, as did the CRC’s director of ministries and administration, Colin Watson, and World Renew-U.S. director Carol Bremer-Bennett. That statement called for Christians to work together “with new urgency against the resurgence of racism and persistence of poverty in America.” 

That statement came from the Circle of Protection, an alliance of faith leaders in the U.S. It identified racism and poverty as theological issues. “At its root, racism is in conflict with the opening declaration in Genesis 1, that we are all made in the image and likeness of God,” the statement reads. “Racism is a sin against God and all of God’s children.”

“We are deeply troubled by the budget proposals coming from Congress and the president,” the letter said. “They outline more than $2 trillion of cuts in programs for hungry and poor people in our country and around the world.”

The statement appealed to the president and the Congress to work together for the common good. “Conservative and liberal people, and those with differing political philosophies, may disagree on how to live up to our nation’s ideals, but our loving God calls all of us to work together for liberty and justice for all.”

Timmermans said signing the letters is in response to instructions from Synod 2017, the annual leadership meeting of the CRC: “. . . an effective response to poverty and hunger must include holding our governments and international bodies accountable . . .” (Acts of Synod 2017, p. 540).

Timmermans acknowledged that the letters didn’t achieve the effect desired. “However, to suggest that silence is the better strategy is a fatalistic response,” he said. He suggested that church members talk to their congressional representatives.

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About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.