With deadlines having passed and our ability to communicate to a broader synodical audience limited, the only way to begin conversations on the important topic of overtures 12, 13, and 14 is through is informal channels like The Network. Please forward, share, and help us engage in discussion on this vital topic of the role of churches and church members in public society.
On May 23rd, 2018, the following communication was sent to the executive director of the CRC in Canada, Darren Roorda, by Kanata CRC in Ottawa, Canada. It was also shared with Dr. Steve Timmermans, executive director (Grand Rapids, MI) of the CRC.
I invite your feedback and discussion on the important topic of church life with regards to public life and engagement. Please read the letter below, sent by the Board of Kanata Community Christian Reformed Church.
Members of Kanata Christian Reformed Church have taken note of the three overtures relating to the role of churches and church members in the public life of our nations. We offer our experience and reflections for consideration by synod in its deliberations on this important aspect of Christian discipleship.
As a congregation in Canada’s national capital, Kanata CRC includes members who deliver public services, members who work in public policy development as government officials, and members who engage in the full range of public policy discussions through advocacy groups and all four political parties.
While there are a variety of views on any given issue and vigorous dialogue in the hallways, we are in agreement on the importance of integrating our civic roles into our life of discipleship, guided by Biblical principles and our calling to do justice as both institutional and organic church. When this aspect of our communal life is exercised with reflection and mutual learning, in the context of humility, prayer and spiritual discipline, the diversity of roles and views enriches our discernment without threatening our deep unity in Christ. As such, we welcome the call of Overture 12 to foster deeper development of our civic roles as a vital aspect of Christian discipleship.
We take note that Canada has a rich history of engaging churches and faith-based organizations in shaping our public life together. This includes shaping public services and policies that are highly valued and increase public justice, such as an inclusive health care system and refugee sponsorship. We also learn from situations where churches became complicit in injustice, such as indigenous residential schools, rather than calling governments to act justly. Deeper reflection, drawing on Biblical teachings, is needed, rather than withdrawal from public life. This involves both the institutional and the organic church, not one or the other.
We are concerned about the proposed direction of rigid restrictions and retreat from this area of witness, as proposed in Overtures 13 and 14. At this point in history we need more discernment about how we exercise the calling to do justice and care for creation in the countries where we live.
In light of these reflections, we prayerfully request that Synod:
- Be encouraged by our on-going experience that it is possible to combine Biblical reflection, robust dialogue about social issues, and respect for diversity in healthy congregational life without threatening our deep unity in Christ.
- Give consideration to the contextual differences between Canada and the United States and allow space for churches and church members in each context to exercise relevant public witness in the life of each nation.
- Reject equation of our Reformed and Kuyperian roots with the particular concept of separation of church and state rooted in the liberal political theories behind the US Constitution as the only way to apply a Reformed world and life view.
- Consider ways to better equip both churches and church members, at all levels, to more fully exercise our calling to give public witness to the Biblical mandate to do justice and Biblical principles for public life, as articulated in Overture 12.
- Support rather than restrict and reduce the small agencies within the CRCNA who work in this vital area of ministry, as an important complement to the much larger investments in other aspects of ministry, and ensure appropriate governance to hold them accountable within the whole body.