Sometime in the next few days Synod will be faced with a significant decision about Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC). Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, a process to change the name of CRWRC has been in the works for at least two years. The first part of the process started in meetings and in-house conversations.
Over much of the last year this process has been carried to the membership of the CRC via internet polls and surveys. We have seen several starts and re-starts in the process as at least two crops of suggested names went out on the internet and gathered much spirited feedback. Back to the drawing board: Find names that more clearly reflect the current mission and organization of CRWRC, while also producing echoes of biblical tradition.
So, what’s wrong with CRWRC? Nothing’s wrong with it. It just doesn’t fit as well as it used to. While the agency is definitely Christian Reformed in origin, worldview and philosophy, and with dual headquarters in Burlington and Grand Rapids, once “on the field,” CRWRC partners with many other denominational and para-church NGOs and national church organizations overseas. Thus “Christian Reformed” seems to be too limited in description. Yet deep roots of name ownership—perhaps too deep?—make some long-time supporters rebel at any name that doesn’t carry the words "Christian Reformed."
Other name issues: What CRWRC does now is much, much more than disaster relief. Community development based on literacy (often using the Bible as a major tool), community health care (preventive—good, clean water a basic ingredient) and hygiene and agricultural development (care and restoration of tired, eroded soils, micro-irrigation, seeds fit for given climates) are all much more complex parts of CRWRC work than was first imagined in the 1960s.
Also, CRWRC has long ceased to be anything resembling a “committee.” It is an many-faceted agency with international reach and splendid reputation for serving people during and long after disasters, working for justice for minorities, refugees, women and so much more.
Names mean a lot. The most important name to keep in mind, though, is the Name of Christ. And it does appear—both in word and with the symbol of the cross in the logo. The FULL name is “World Renew: Living Justice, Loving Mercy, Serving Christ.” The board of CRWRC and the Board of Trustees unanimously agreed on the new name and commended the process used to discover it. What will Synod say?