A recent news article in our denominational publication, The Banner, brought to light the escalating intimidation and threatening communication being received by those who serve the Christian Reformed Church in the Office of Social Justice (OSJ) and The Office of Race Relations (ORR). These offices exist for and serve the purpose of carrying out the work of justice, not only as a faithful response to our call as followers of Jesus Christ, but also as mandated by our own Synod.
We are grateful to those who serve our denomination in this manner calling the Church back to the overarching priority of Biblical justice. We acknowledge that we as the church haven’t lived this out very well over the years. The history of racist ideologies, policies, and practices in our country and in the Church is real and continues into the present. The sin of racism negatively affects all of us, and the threatening tactics used by members of our own wider body further exposes that. We firmly and unequivocally stand against any communication that diminishes the person and work of anyone who serves these offices.
Some of those who faced this harassment are members of our own body here at Madison Church. When one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it. We stand with these members in support, we reject the means and methods of disagreement and hatred used against them, and we repent of the ways we have emboldened such bullies in our midst through our silence or inaction.
This story cannot be read and dismissed. It is an “uncovering” of something that has been a part of our community for a long time. Each of us must take this as an opportunity to examine our own hearts, our own speech (including our online presence) and silence, and our own actions and inactions.
As we move forward as a community joined together by Jesus, the words of Paul who regularly spoke out and acted against ethnic division seem fitting:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:13-16).
The Spirit leads us into practices of confession, repentance, lament and listening…the very things that Lent is all about. As we continue walking together, if you are interested in learning opportunities, check out resources listed here.
God, continue to shape us to be the people you’ve called us to be.
All Site Leadership Team
Pastors Joy Bonnema, Darrell Delaney, Brad Knetsch, Andrea Bult
Joanna DeMoor-Tannor; All-Site Executive Director
Ericka Williams; All-Site Director of Communications
Stephanie Kammeraad; Madison North Director of Children’s Ministry