Blog

Do Justice, the joint blog of the Centre for Public Dialogue and the Office of Social Justice, has been around for a year and a half! You can see the most popular articles of the year here.

December 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Is a national third party needed today?

October 31, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

In life and in death, Jesus hung out with those on the margins of society. In fact, in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, he says that He Himself is at the margins. As His hands and feet, are we listening to people at the margins?

October 28, 2014 2 2 comments
Discussion Topic

On October 1st, Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC posted and article entitled "Social Justice and the Gospel: What is the Core Mission of the Church?" Here is the link:

...
October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Around 250 Salvadorans leave the country every day. There are no exact numbers because migrating continues being something “clandestine, invisible” from the authorities. It doesn’t matter in what conditions youth live, they want to leave.

August 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

What are, should or could deacons be doing about injustice? What resources are available to help deacons carry out this aspect of their Charge?

August 5, 2014 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

One very practical way that many CRC churches have reached out to their neighbours is refugee sponsorship. On the Do Justice blog, Trang Thi, a refugee sponsored by a small rural church in northern Alberta, writes about the beautiful welcome she and her family received.

What kinds of...

November 19, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

 

  I believe the answer cuts accross many different topics, but perhaps the most important is social justice. This opens up a discussion about the relationships between government, secular knowledge, economics, and governance. But, to narrow it down to a single issue, here is an example:...

April 30, 2013 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

What do the ten commandment teaches us about abortion.

The Law of God and Abortion.

                            And God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

The same God who delivered the Jews from...

April 22, 2013 0 2 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 03/20/2013 This webinar will cover an overview of why so many churches are speaking out and calling our current immigration system unjust, a layout of the ways that churches are called to welcome the stranger, and a preview of the new Church Between Borders workshop.

March 20, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

On March 20 at 12:00 p.m. EDT Kris Van Engen will present on the topic of “Welcoming the Stranger” in a free, one-hour webinar. National borders and immigration laws are a part of the context in which the church finds itself today. In this “in-between” place, the CRC is called to demonstrate...

March 11, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Hiya folks!

Do you live in or around Grand Rapids?

On 6 April, a Saturday, will be a great opportunity to learn more about how to be concretely involved in local social justice.  More often than not, we think about social justice, or talk about social justice - well, now is time for...

March 8, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The following article is forthcoming in the January 14, 2013 issue of Christian Courier (www.christiancourier.ca) by Shannon Jammal-Hollemans and Steve van de Hoef

January 20, 2013 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. For the church, this is an opportunity to reflect on questions such as:...

January 8, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Q: What does God require of you in this commandment [you shall not steal]?

A: That I do whatever I can for my neighbors good, that I treat him as I would like others to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need. HC Q&A 111

I’ve been...

October 5, 2012 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

So, the Office of Social Justice sends out these "Action Alerts".  The latest screed is this:

"Despite the fact that the Senate has no interest in taking up this bill, its passage remains problematic. As the political rhetoric around the budget and deficit grows even more rancorous over...

May 17, 2012 0 21 comments
Discussion Topic

Are the Office of Social Justice, the Synod of the CRC, and other official organs of the CRCNA - whether intentionally or not - attempting to define Christianity in a way that excludes conservative political and economic views?

Please provide evidence for your answer.

August 18, 2011 0 25 comments
Discussion Topic


The OSJ and Office of Race Relations are offering a new opportunity to fulfill God’s command to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger among us.

We ask that you sign A Commitment to My Immigrant Neighbor, a personal pledge committing to live out your faith by aiding immigrants...

July 11, 2011 0 24 comments
Discussion Topic

Recently Relevant Magazine printed 3 open letters by Ron Sider addressed to the younger generation.  I am not familar with Ron Sider but the article states his creditals in social justice circles this way:  "Many would consider Dr. Ron Sider the father of the modern Christian social justice...

April 26, 2011 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

     "Imagine a small village next to a rushing river.  One day, as the villagers are performing their daily duties, they hear the sound of crying.  Horrified, they see a baby floating helplessly in the river.  Some of the villagers immediately swim out to save the baby.  They wrap him in warm...

November 6, 2010 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic

One of the buzz phrases I have heard in many social justice circles regarding the issue of immigration reform is “Comprehensive and Just Immigration Reform”.  But I have taken a slight twist on that idea and have used it to advocate for our Native American communities by pointing out that “...

September 2, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

It’s been a big couple of weeks for immigration. Two weeks ago at Synod, the CRCNA adopted the Report on the Migration of Workers (see here: http://www.crcna.org/news.cfm?newsid=2023§ion=1) which, among other things, calls the denomination to education and advocacy towards a more just...

July 1, 2010 0 19 comments
Discussion Topic
I attended the Justice Conference at Oakdale Park CRC this morning, sponsored by Association for a More Just Society and Office of Social Justice. Thanks for putting it together. At the panel on Justice & Education in Grand Rapids, I wanted to say "Amen" to Mindy Hamstra's dream of families...
March 13, 2010 0 5 comments

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Megan: Thanks for the answer to the first question.  That's helpful.  I have read by now pretty much everything on the OSJ web pages, as well as the Synod 2010 report.  Please understand that I understand you and other OSJ staff are doing what you are assigned to do.  I say that because some of what I may say in my posts here might seem to be taking pokes at you and other staff.  I'm not intending that. But I am trying to figure out what political positions the CRC (via OSJ and otherwise) is taking (because in so doing, the denomination is acting as my political proxy and the political proxy of other CRC members).

Which brings me back to the second question I asked.  You punted on answering that one.  :-)

I do realize my second question is more complicated than my first, but it's not that complicated.  In fact, I would argue that the question is a foundational one, such that OSJ can't really start "doing" anything without answering it and a handful of other foundational questions.  When I reviewed all the OSJ web pages and linked reports, I found lots and lots of the usual "left of center" lingo but I would be really hard pressed to say there was even one statement that clearly acknowledged the right of any government to limit (even if to the point of eliminating) immigration.  Again, the answer to this question is a fundamental point for any immigration discussion.  Indeed, some folks will openly and honestly say they believe the US should be borderless, that it has no right to disallow anyone from coming here.  What is bit troubling to me is one could make a case, from reading the Synod 2010 report and the OSJ pages and links, that such is also the position of the CRC/OSJ.

So, is it?  Does OSJ take the position that the US government should be acknowledged to have a "right" to control (i.e., limit, even if that means eliminate) immigration?  Or does OSJ take the position that all people, or even some people, outside the US have a justice based right to immigrate into the US?

Doug,

This statement in particular was co-written by OSJ staff and the Office of Race Relations in accordance with the recommendations from Synod 2010 that we educate and advocate on comprehensive immigration reform. If you visit the pledge website, you'll see the recommendations in bullet-point format. 

Your second question is much more complex. As a follow-up to the aforementioned pledge, the OSJ and Office of Race Relations are offering a more in-depth curriculum for congregations wanting to take a closer look at the issue of immigration. The curriculum is being piloted among a few churches this winter, and will be available for broad use this spring.

I'm committed to my immigrant neighbor.  If he's here in violation of our laws, I'm committed to encouraging and helping him to go home.  Laws like the ones recently passed in Arizona and Alabama are part of that.

If he's here in accord with our laws, I'm committed to helping him adjust and assimilate.

Enforcement, rationalization of the INS system, assimilation.  There's a pledge for you.

There's a process??

Judging by the statements themselves, they just avail themselves of the latest left-wing group-speak, put a Christian gloss over it, and send it out.  A process implies careful thought, consideration of how this will impact people, and so on.  But those statements are laid out in a way that makes it fairly clear that it never occurred to the authors that they might even need to answer cogent arguments from opponents - they assume there aren't any.  When the people they hang out with do become aware of disagreement, they simply declare it invalid and unchristian, as in the recent BANNER editorial.

Makes it much, much easier.

Kris: Thanks for the help.  OK, I will.

First, I'm wondering first how the OSJ develops the statements it develops. Does it just assign someone to write it?  Does the BOT write it?  Does it subcontract with Sojourners or Center for Public Justice?  Or ...?  The reason I ask this is because it seems to me that it is difficult at best (acutally impossible) to "represent" all CRCers when producing statements like this.  So I think knowing the process is important.

Second, I notice in the statement that there seems to be a presumption that people from other countries have some sort of justice based right to immigrate into the US.  Is that a presumption, or not?  Put another way, would it be "just" (not discussing wisdom at this point, or even mercy) for the US to simply deny immigration requests to everyone?

Hi Doug:  If you have comments about the Commitment to My Immigrant Neighbor Pledge this would be a great place to post them.  Others who have already posted here will probably get an alert that more people have jumped in on this conversation and maybe they will respond.  On the other hand trying to start a general discussion on immigration under this specific post might not get a big response...   you could also start a new topic/thread in this Social Justice Advocates section and see if it gets some more discussion going around the issue of immigration.           

Meghan: Are you (meant as folks from OSJ) intending to actually discuss these issues, or is your post just an advertisment for the OSF initiative you are pitching?

I'd love to discuss these (and other) OSJ issues--constructively--but I am getting the feeling that your seed post wasn't an actual discussion invitation.

Let me know.  I don't really want to waste my time "discussing" with myself, but would like an "iron sharpens iron" discussion with OSJ folk and CRC members about this.

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." - CS Lewis.
 

But that would be no solution.  I do not seek some fantasy of political balance.  What bothers me is the apparent attempt to define the faith as excluding those with certain political and economic opinions.

It's one thing, for instance, to argue that a federally funded, single-payer health care system is the best way to provide for the poor.  It is quite another to say that being faithful to the Bible requires such a system.  The first is a statement about which Christians may disagree.  The second says that if you disagree, you're not Christian.

The Bible says much about taking care of God's creation and work and responsibility and caring for the marginalized of society, it says not a whit about anthropogenic global warming, ethanol subsidies, food stamps or appropriate income tax rates. Would it not perhaps be best for the Church to officially remain silent where the Bible is silent - to espouse, expound upon, promulgate and defend biblical principles while leaving their prudential application to our members?

posted in: Political Diversity

Easily solvable. We'll have a synodical overture demanding that, first: for every person hired or placed on a committee, another person who represents the opposite political position of the first person be hired/appointed alongside the first person. And, second: all hirable positions and committee appointments will be made on the basis of providing a representation of the spectrum of political views in both Canada and the United States to the hiring entity or specific committee.

In a year or two, we can read fawning Banner articles on how the Kingdom of Christ is being realized on earth by the fact that Conservatives, LIberals, Progressives, Tea-Partiers, Marxists, Libertarians and Anarchists are all working together for the Gospel of Christ. 

posted in: Political Diversity

I mean conservative political and economic views.

For instance, the Synod of the CRC officially endorsed the Micah Statement on Climate Change even though it makes several questionable (and in my opinion false) declarations such as:

"We acknowledge that industrialization, increased deforestation, intensified agriculture and grazing, along with the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels, have forced the earth’s natural systems out of balance. Rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions are causing the average global temperature to rise, with devastating impacts already being experienced, especially by the poorest and most marginalized groups. A projected temperature rise of 2°C within the next few decades will significantly alter life on earth and accelerate loss of biodiversity. It will increase the risk and severity of extreme weather events, such as drought, flood, and hurricanes, leading to displacement and hunger. Sea levels will continue to rise, contaminating fresh water supplies and submerging island and coastal communities. We are likely to see mass migration, leading to resource conflicts. Profound changes to rainfall and snowfall, as well as the rapid melting of glaciers, will lead to more water stress and shortages for many millions of people."

The statement also castigates those who (like many conservatives) are skeptical of the science undergirding the claims and even more skeptical of the proposed solution (UN and governmental dictats).

One particular official of the Micah Center, one Dr. David Van Dyke (distinct from the Micah Network and not officially sponsored by the CRC, but still supported) flatly declared that the Bible requires us to support federally funded, single-payer health care systems (according to this report: http://www.crcna.org/news.cfm?newsid=2517&section=1).

The Contemporary Testimony, in articles 44-54 (with the exception of its statements concerning embryonic research and abortion) apparently adopts almost wholesale the premises and assumptions of the social-welfare state as a requirement of faith.

These are not statements that argue social-welfare or statist policies are the best means to the ends of caring for creation or the poor, but statements that suggest or declare social-welfare, statest policies are the only way to achieve these ends.  And they are officially sanctioned by denominational leadership.  And that concerns me.

UPDATED TO REFLECT CORRECTION BELOW

posted in: Political Diversity

Oh - and in the interests of accuracy, regarding the Micah Center, after stating that the Micah Center is not officially sponsored or approved, "...many CRC individuals and churches help to sponsor it and the CRC’s Office of Social Justice has co-sponsored events with the organization and considers it a regional partner." (from the article referenced above)

So there's a basis for saying it's supported by the CRC, but that doesn't mean the denomination as such gives them money except for specific services and or events.

posted in: Political Diversity

Thanks for the correction.

Not sure it mitigates the overall point I'm making, but accuracy is a good thing, so again, thanks.

posted in: Political Diversity

Just to clarify, the Micah Network and Micah Center are two completely separate organizations. The article you cite also makes clear that the Micah Center is not officially sponsored by the CRCNA.

posted in: Political Diversity

Please clarify what you mean by conservative political and economic views. As someone who would put herself in the fiscally conservative but socially liberal camp, I have not felt excluded by the denomination but rather the two political parties that we have in the U.S.

posted in: Political Diversity

Actually, there have been laws regulating immigration from the very beginning of the European colonies on these shores.  They tended to be light, hard to enforce, and frequently ignored, but they were there.

By the middle of the 19th century, as patterns of immigration changed and more of those immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe, the laws changed, becoming more restrictive.

It is a fact that many of those laws were racist - not against Blacks or Hispanics, but against Slavs, Italians, Irish, Jews and most especially Chinese (cf. American Passage).  From the time of the U.S. Civil War and running through the 1950s, there were also close connections between immigration restrictions and the eugenics movement.

That said, there is a distinctive American culture that is worth preserving, and far more people want to come into the U.S. at a rate much faster than we can effectively assimilate.

What is more, illegal immigration is not a victimless crime.  We see the poor immigrant, but that poor immigrant undersells the local youth on the labor market leading to things like 50% unemployment for Black teenagers in Washington, D.C. and, while it is too often and too simply (and falsely) attributed to some ill-defined racist power structure, immigration is a factor.  There are also the social services used by many of these immigrants that amount to a theft from taxpayers.  To further avoid the law, there are issues of identity theft, forged papers, hidden papers, dangerous drivers who have not been properly trained for our roads and vehicles - not to mention the ability to exploit the fear of deportation and/or prison employers have been known to use against illegal immigrant employees.

I will grant that U.S. immigration laws are hosed - byzantine, burdensome and ineffective.  That doesn't mean we should have unrestricted immigration or that we should reward those who have broken our laws in order to steal jobs, identities, and tax dollars.

So no, I won't be signing this pledge. It will do little more than perpetuate the problem.  I'm more interested in finding possible solutions.

I am a small business owner. I have not felt the anything from immigrants but increased business. Love for your neighbor doesn't come with conditions.

In many years ago, people came all of the world for different reason, there were not law to determine who and who is not illegel and these laws add latter. those who came to this country become illegel , becuase they have hard life background.as christians, our duty is love neighor, as you entertaining strangers,  whom maybe angeles sent from God.

Meghan. This is the kind of post that causes many people in the denomination to groan. You seem to have a great care and love for people which is very good and very Christian. We should see peopel first as created in the image of God and not first as illigal or legal. But I wish there would be a little more nuance in your post and in  the "commitment to my Immigrant neighbo"r pledge.  Do you and those who work at the OSJ realize that America accepts mor immigrants than all the other countries in the world combined? This is a very generous country in terms of immigration.  I agree with you that this is a country of immigrants. Its what makes this country great ,what gives it energy and viatality .But does this country have the right to determine its own immigration policy? If it does ,then it needs to punish people who violate those laws. People do not have an inherint right to illigally immigrate and then to bring thier families here. The plege states that this is a complex issue and truely it is. So lets aknowlege the complexity by saying that the system is broken because illigal immigrants have broken it AND the US government needs to change some laws.  The plege states that illigal immigrants can not go the police when they witness a crime or are the victims of a crime. That is a blanket statment that is not based on fact . The Banner recently has had some good articles about people who are here iligelly. Perhaps we should also have articles in The Banner from small buisness owners and ordinary people who have felt the negative effects of illigal immigration.  Thank you  Brian Tebben

I am a social justice "advocate" at a personal level but on my own, not representing any organization whatsoever. I think the Christian faith is enough reason to fight (in a peaceful way) for social justice in our societies.

From my point of view, the church (we as believers and the institutions as a whole) have not done enough work trying to seek justice for the opressed and needy. And this, looking for justice, is a Biblical position. People vote for people and parties whose only goal is to acomplish economic interests and pursuing the goal of rich becoming richer, without caring for the poor. Middle class often stands in-between for political agendas. Not to mention about places where there are acute extreme poverty issues.

Activism will be the key for the chuches to awaken and be truly concerned about social issues of justice. Theological arguments and works of motivation and encouragement to care for the environment, as God's stewards, for instance, have been successful for many congregations and Christian people. But not too much is said or published within the Church's context about society. And what's published comes from a politically conservative view which is not too concerned about opression proper, but about military, mainly the issue of "Just war" in the U.S./Canadian context.    

 

Our goal on working with returning felons and their families is not just social justice but to bring them to salvation in Jesus Christ. I lead a Celebrate Recovery group for Allen County Community Corrections. We are helping returning felons work on their recovery from drug, alcohol addictions and their hurts, hang-ups and habits that are destructive. We have a family ministry for their spouse and children plus we provide a meal. BUT our main goal is not just to help them re-enter society from prison but to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. As is it written in Romans 10:9-15, "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” We must be intentional on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those we are helping re-enter society from prison. As we do, they will say (and they have said to us) how beautiful you are for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with us and for bringing us to salvation in Jesus Christ!

http://www.delightingod.com

We may be heading down that path but, there is always hope. Something i think we are all loseing, that no matter how bad things look there is always hope in GOD and his will along with his master plan.

Yes, thank you too, Ken.  God bless you and I really meant what I said about the issues you expressed.  I really do hope your local friends and family, and your church, can bond together and get through these difficult times. There are many issues that need to be addressed, some at a local or regional level, others at a national or international level. The original post by Kate Kooyman spoke about immigration reform, the CRCNA's and President Obama's speeches and responses, and upcoming legislation. My only goal here is to shed some light on the diversity of viewpoints that exist, in the hope that we all as Christians can see the light and come to some conclusions as to the best way forward.

If some agree with me, fine, then can say why. If others disagree, no problem, we can politely disagree and state our reasoning.  I happen to think that if all ideas are allowed to compete in a fair arena of ideas, people are smart enough to see through bad ideas and adopt the good ones. This is not always the case, some get stuck on bad ideas and will not let go, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Thank you for your comments though, Ken, and I really do wish the best for you and your family going forward. I did not mean to minimize your personal situation, I was merely trying to keep this thread on the original topic.  God bless you.

Thamks John, We made the right choice.

God bless you

Ken

OK thank you for your honesty, Ken, I guess we will have to respectfully agree to disagree on my goals here.  Yes I did spend time explaining my views on an issue and I hope others do the same. It is only in that way we can learn from each other and sift through ideas, letting the good ones come to the top.  I hope you don't jump to the conclusion that this church and network are not to my satisfaction; I'm not sure where that came from.  Yes, of course we all see areas for improvement, we all care, that is why this forum was created, so we could discuss what we care about and then take the best ideas for our own churches. I really wish you would stop stereotyping people with "I live with your type of people with the same attitudes".  Ken, you really don't know my attitudes on many issues. I think many of them you would agree with, and many would surprise you!  Why don't we get to know one another in Christian love before casting these aspersions?

Ken, I do disagree with one point you made, though. One can't "beat people into submission with ideas"!  That is not possible. One can only explain one's ideas, and if they make sense, others will adopt them.  If they don't make sense, they are free to explain why and maybe they will change the minds of others in the process. I think too many people are afraid of ideas, they think we should all just follow the "conventional wisdom" or what is "politically correct" and leave it at that.  If our founders followed that philosophy, where would be now?  Or if Jesus just went along with the "accepted" ideas of his time, where would we all be?

So yes, you have judged my motives incorrectly, and my actions of discussing good ideas and soliciting other ideas should not cause you any strife. In spite of your mistake on me, I welcome you too, and I look forward to future discussions of ideas, if you feel like participating.  No pressure, Ken! Yes, of course we can be friends and brothers in Christ even if we disagree on issues, and of course we will both continue to be civil and engage in intelligent discourse. That is how Christians should and do act.

John, You are may be fine individual but you don't spend the effort you did explaining your view after just joining 2 days ago without feeling this church and network are not to your satifaction. John you can fool yourself but I will stay with my belief based on what have already said. That is why John, I drove you towards you to do the explaining. John I live with your type of people with the same attutudes. They are good people too and I love them. But you John are after conflect to beat people wih idea;s into submission. You knew I was hurting yet you through out some platitudes then dove in to further your goals. It maybe my fault if I judged your motives incorrectly, But your actions did the talking.

In spite of this John I would like to welcome you. If you are who you say you are we will be friends even if we don;t agree on certain issue's. If your not who claim lets stop right here and be civil. Your choice, both ways John I know you are a brother in Christ . WE are bing watched by many and Iwe need to show them how Christains act.

Ken

Ken, I resent your false accusation that I am "itching for a fight". I am through with that too, and I don't want to argue with you either.  I know the purpose of this forum is to discuss things in Christian love, and see how other churches do things. I think it is important to ask questions and compare notes with other Christians across the CRC, whether they are down the street or across the country.  I assume you and others are doing ministry just like me, so I want to ask for help, share my experience, and connect and learn with others!

So, again, anything discussed here will be done in Love.  To me, NOT discussing various ideas on the best way to do something, and ending up with a less optimal solution, is not love, it is a disservice to those we want to help.  The poor and helpless suffer more if we don't figure out the best way to help them.  I can understand if you don't want to join the discussion but please don't cast aspersions on those who want to discuss issues and seek the truth. 

John, I don't want to argue with you. That is why I asked what your are doing here. I could see you itching for a fight. I'm through with that. Anything done without Love is nothing.

Ken, that is a shame you feel that way. I think it is obvious that it does matter which polices we implement. The way we are going now, we are being led down a path to European style socialism and failure. I want better for our children and the world, and a good example is Newt's policies on immigration.  The current system is unfair and Newt has put together a non-partisan coaltion that is not interested in politics, they just want good ideas that work. I can understand why you would not be interested but many want the best for our children and those that enherit the world we leave.

John , I haven't read his proposal. nor do I care much about secular politic's anymore. As far as I am concerned nobody in Gov leadership. is doing their job. They all have a problem with the truth.

I am so sorry to hear about your trouble, Ken.  I can't believe your church is too busy with "more important stuff" because showing love to you and everyone else is one of the most important things the church can do.  Hopefully someone from your church will read this and pay you a visit!  In the meantime, yes you still have your family and yes of course Jesus cares for you and your family. But, we are all praying that the relationship between you and your church improves.

To keep this a bit on topic for this area of the forum, what do you think of Newt Gingrich's common sense ideas for immigration reform?

Thanks John, I live 300 yds from my church, but they are to busywith more important stuff. Besides John when you have a long term illness with no let up people have to melt away.

I suppose I would also. So after  12yrs I  am down to my immediate family. Not even my brothers  intiate contact anymore till the holiday's. John, I have my name and verses written under sheetrock in that church when we built it. I think a lot about that and how everyone can talk about what the church means to them. I am believer in spite of the church. Jesus cares for me and family and we live on that. But my family is slowly stopping to go to church to because they don't understand how this can happen.Actuall;y ,My storry is much bigger than what I'm saying but it is hard for me to type with spastic hands and arms.

Thanks for the verse, I can't quote things from memory anymore but it is written in my heart and doesn't bleed out with my tears.

 I know some people will read this and say what did you do Ken to mess up the church relations. I welcome anybody to ask me maybe on the phone so I can actually tell them. It's a story of Grace .

Hi Ken,

I'm truly sorry to hear you were lonely.  I'm from the west also. I hope you find good Christian friends here and also in your church and community.  God loves you and wants us all to live in harmony and to love one another.  And don't forget, Jesus is always our friend as well as our savior:

 

John 15:14-16 (New International Version, ©2011)

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Where you from John. I'm out west in Washington.

Ken

I was lonely.

Hi Ken!  Thank you for posting and you asked a good question.  I joined because I wonder how other churches do things and I wanted to find out!  I think it is important to ask questions and compare notes with other Christians across the CRC,  whether they are down the street or across the country.  I assume you and others are doing ministry just like me, so I want to ask for help, share my experience, and connect and learn with others!

I think there are various viewpoints and policies that all say they are working toward the same goals. The Christian community should not follow one political party or the other blindly, we should examine every policy from a Christian perspective, using our God given minds and our God given logic and ability to reason and look at history and empirical evidence. We should explore and discuss and make sure the policies we are promoting are actually doing what they say they will do.  If we just support a policy because it makes us feel good, or it is politically correct, but doesn't actualy help the poor or powerless, then I don't think we should support those policies.

Why did you join?

Dear John or whoever is writing this. I see you joined today. Why?

Kate, I'm glad you started this discussion.  I am concerned about immigration and I want a new system that is fair to everyone too -- that includes those from other countries that want to come to America, those waiting in line to get in legally, taxpaying citizens who are currently legally in the USA, and those that have broken the law and have come across the border illegally. As a Christian, I love and care for all of the people named here, and I want everyone to take a deep breath and take a step back and look at things from all perspectives.

Newt Gingrich has done a lot of non-partisan, common sense research and open discussion with Democrats, Independents and Republicans on this issue. He has provided long discussion and working sessions with input from all sides. He is getting a lot of support from people who don’t really have an ideological bent, they just want common sense solutions and want to get something done, with compassion and sound principles. He points out that in the past year Marco Rubio was elected Senator from Florida, and the Latino people and all Americans are proud of his accomplishment. Susana Martínez became the first Latina governor in the country. A number of new Hispanics and Latinos were elected across the country. Republicans are not the problem. President Obama and the Democrats had two full years to pass a good immigration law and they totally failed. Obama ignored most of Latin America in the state of the union speech. He emphasized Korea and didn’t talk at all about the Columbian Free Trade Agreement.

We should be very clear: it is impossible to pass a single, comprehensive immigration reform bill. We saw the problems with the huge, costly Obamacare health care take over. We should have a series of good steps, with vivid and clear goals:
We want legality. We want control of the borders. We want easy deportation of felons and gang members. There is no excuse for dangerous gangs to be in 65 American cities because of the complexity of American deportation laws. We want English as the official language of government, but we respect every language as the language of life, politics and commerce. We absolutely believe every citizen ought to learn American history, both American born citizens and first generation immigrants.

We should have a dramatically bigger visa program for well educated people, because it is absurd to have someone graduate from MIT or CalTech, or other good American schools, and they have to leave the country to create a new factory in India, because we won’t let them stay here and build a factory.

We need a guest worker program driven by economic reality, and the guest worker program should be outsourced to American Express, Visa or Mastercard, because they are the only systems capable of running a fraud free program, and I would never trust the federal government with a a guest worker
Once there is a guest worker program with real time, equivalent of ATM speed, then any employer who hires someone who is not an American citizen, or have a guest worker program or other legal documentation, I would hammer them economically so you would eliminate hiring people illegally. That way people who are hear legally would have a couple of choices.

You have to have some sort of local system with human discrimination, like we did in the past with draft boards during WWII. It has to have human discrimination, because for example, there is a young man in Dallas, Texas who is 19 years old, who came here when he was three. He doesn’t speak Spanish. Now to say to him, “Gosh, you need to go back to Mexico”, strikes me as something that no common sense group of American neighbors would do. So there has to be some way to distinguish. But, everybody who ends up as an illegal guest worker, HAS to go to the back of the line and fill out an application for citizenship, because we CANNOT punish those who have been obeying the law, waiting in their home country, being patient, by telling them they were dumb, they should have broken the law and come to the U.S. and we’d eventually take care of them. We have to control the border.

Once the new regime is set up, everyone who comes into this country illegally is deported in 48 hours. This nonsense system we currently have is so heavily rigged against deportation that it is an absurdity. And remember, most of the people who came here came legally, then their visa expired or whatever. So we need to pass a series of building blocks over the course of 1-2 years.

This is just common sense. The so-called “Dream Act” attempted to put the wrong policies in place and empower Democrat politicians, and went against common sense and the will of the people. That is why it was defeated. We need a good common sense immigration law as outlined above. The Dream Act would give citizenship to illegals and allow them to jump past those that are patiently waiting in line and obeying the law. We CANNOT do that, it is unfair and immoral to those people who are doing what is right. The Dream Act was designed by politicians to be defeated, so they could use it to demagogue the issue. We are all immigrants but we came here legally. The other problem with open borders is the threat to homeland security. If we don’t know who is streaming across the border, how do we know if we are letting the next terrorist in? We need to check out who is coming in. We don’t want a terrorist to come across our border, and kill 10 or 20 thousand Americans in a mass attack. At that point liberal Christians will say “Let us pray for God’s peace and understanding for the families of the victims…”
We don’t want to have to pray for victims…we want to PREVENT the next attack by checking the background of people attempting to enter the country.

The term “social justice” is just an innocuous phrase to most people. To many Christians, it just means “fairness” and it is used as a substitute for "outreach to the poor." This is what Jesus commands us as individuals to do: help the poor, reach out to the weak and helpless, protect the innocent children, born and unborn.

The problem arises when some try to pervert and hijack the term "social justice", and somehow try to force redistribution of wealth on people, with a hostility toward individual property rights. They sometimes do this under the guise of charity or justice, but this corrupts true charity because it takes away the personal one of one helping of Christian charity. None of us feel very “charitable” on April 15th when the government raises our taxes, then proceeds to waste our tax dollars through fraud and redundant programs that the government has no business running.

If your church is promoting a liberation theology style "social or economic justice," you should run from it or at least get educated on what progressives mean by this.

Here's a simple rule of thumb: Make sure your church puts God first and politics and government last. Here are the clear warning signs: "social justice" or "economic justice" or "ecological justice." If these so-called church leaders start attacking capitalism and promoting socialist or communist ways, stay far away.

So to be clear: Some people look at social justice as going out on mission and going out and doing good works for God. That's great — as long as you are personally, or in a church group, representing the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth. If your church leaders or anyone else starts promoting a government-bloated program, steer clear!

Love to Kris,  I have done some street ministry when I have had the energy, I found alot of self estem issues on the streeets along with a pervasive bias against these people who for various reasons can no longer manage their lives. They  have a chance if you can direct them through the system. Mental illness and addiction are other common themes. Along with a history of being abused and rejected by parental figures. They feel a sense rejection on all fronts that is profound sometimes beyond the scope of people who havn't suffered for extended periods with little or no help. I might add Kris, I don't know your background,  but when I make a friendship I try my best to keep it unless I can't. Kris

posted in: Holistic Helping

Ken,

Thanks for the clarification question.  

What I was picking up on is that it is 'all relational,' if by 'all relational,' we are referring to the kind of friendships where we truly help each other grow and flourish.  These are relationships that are sustained over a long period of time, that include seeing value in each other and that give opportunities to help each other grow.  In the case of injustice these relationships also include speaking out and seeking change on behalf of the friend who is oppressed.

While we have this conversation going I would love to hear more of your thoughts about people feeling like they don't matter to others or themselves. 

 

   

posted in: Holistic Helping

Hi Kris, What do you mean other the statement of fact which I agree withthis statement.

I agree relationships are critical.  Especially when they extend to the level of recognizing gifts in one another and even confession, forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is important to consider if we are doing what we can to offer everything in our power within these mutual relationships.

posted in: Holistic Helping

 

Ken,

 

I agree relationships are critical.  Especially when they extend to the level of recognizing gifts in one another and even confession, forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is important to consider if we are doing what we can to offer everything in our power within these mutual relationships.

Here is another example of helping in holistic way:  Many who are working in one on one relationships with people who are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking spend a great amount of energy speaking to the governments of their countries. Governments who often turn a blind eye to this kind of activity.  They also work to get permission from the government to provide preventive education in schools. They spend time raising funds to support themselves and pay for the resources to keep their education, discipleship and advocacy ministries going.  As simple servants of a greater master they pray and they call on others to pray.  They see the impact their work is making and train other church groups to join with them and multiply their cause.

posted in: Holistic Helping

Thanks Kris,

   You nailed it . It's all relational. The pain ,loss and hopelessnss are symtoms of people lacking validation. They don't matter too people so they don;t matter to themselves. Endless cycle that may seem bizzare to "normal" people only because their time hasn't come yet. Rest assured it will.

posted in: Holistic Helping

Thanks for the comment, Pastor T. I'm happy to explain further. There's a good overview of the system's injustices on the Office of Social Justice website: http://www.crcna.org/pages/osj_immbackground.cfm And the unjust practices of enforcement I was referring to are things like mass workplace raids (which punish workers and their families, but not the employers who hired them), a significant acceleration of detention and deportation of immigrants, and a total lack of resource management when it comes to targeting criminal immigrants instead of workers. This has resulted in a separation of families, a worsening of the economies that have been subject to raids, an increased backlog of people waiting for their day in immigration court, and a lot of problems for pastors (maybe like you!) of churches in our denomination who are trying to minister with and to immigrants in their communities. Hope that's helpful.

Dear Miss Kooyman:

I'm curious. In your first paragaph, you noted that the church suffers when "immigration laws are so unjust." In your second paragraph, you said, "To lots of us who have been watching this administration worsen instead of improve the most unjust practices of US immigration enforcement, this was a cup of cold water."

Would you please explain why the immigration laws are so unjust, and would you also enumerate "the most unjust practices" of US immigration enforcement?

Cordially,

Pastor T.

If http://www.greatschools.org/cities.page?city=Grand%20Rapids&state=MI is a fair representation of the Grand Rapids metro area then the Grand Rapids School District seems to be a typical large American city with good schools in the rich districts and poor schools in poor districts. Would you who might pull your kids out of Christian schools be putting your kids in a rich school or a poor school? I suspect the rich neighborhoods are not very "diverse," maybe less so than the church you attend?

Are your children old enough to understand the social and educational implications of making this change? Are you qualified and have the time to home teach your kids to make up for any deficiencies in the public school you choose?

I admire adults who intentionally go into harm's way for a good cause but is it "fair" to use one's children no matter how good the cause?

posted in: Religious Education

Hey Michael, The conference was a Saturday gathering of folks in the West Michigan area who wanted to talk about how to be engaged in justice right now. There were a number of workshops that covered topics like restorative justice, education, immigration, justice in Honduras, human trafficking, racial justice, and lots more. It was the second annual conference of this kind -- both this year's and last year's were sponsored by the Office of Social Justice and the Association for a More Just Society. The education conversation that Noah was referring to was part of a panel discussion on justice in education, where representatives of the Grand Rapids Public School board, Grand Rapids Christian Schools, Potters House, and a new school called Living Stones all spoke to seeking justice in our community's education system. Does that answer your question?

posted in: Religious Education

I didn't attend, but noticed this news story that gives some more information about it.

posted in: Religious Education

I missed this conference, but I would like some clarification on what this was about – if anyone has the time.

posted in: Religious Education

I have an even better idea--let's find ways to make sure that the Christian day schools we support (whether in Grand Rapids or out here in the provinces) are capable of admitting children from every ethnicity, race, and income level. That way everyone has access to a Christ-centered education.

posted in: Religious Education

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