A Letter From 1939 About Deacons


Recently, while Bill Tuininga (CRC pastor in Edmonton, Alberta) was going through his mother’s belongings—after she passed away on December 15, 2014—he discovered a letter written by his grandfather, Hendrik Schoonekamp, in 1939*. This particular letter was not to an individual or family member, but to his church. In it, Mr. Schoonekamp writes about what he believes is, and should be, the proper role and work of deacons...in contrast to how it was viewed and practiced at the time. After I read it--and share it here with Pastor Tuininga's permission--I realized that very little has changed since 1939 when it comes to how we as a denomination recognize and understand the importance, function and role of deacons today. Yet, 76 years ago a humble deacon from Neerlandia, Alberta, clearly expressed his concerns and challenged his church to view the work of deacons as an “integral part of the church’s calling . . . [which] needs to come to full expression.” The letter from Mr. Schoonekamp is attached (originally written in Dutch and translated by Bill's brother-in-law, Homer Samplonius, a retired CRC pastor from Toronto).

What are your thoughts?

1. Do you think much if anything has changed since 1939 with how we as a denomination view and understand the office and work of deacons?

2. What, if anything, does this say to you about the CRC?

3. Do you think that Synod 2015 will recognize that the priestly role and work of deacons is equally important and integral to the mission and ministry of the Church as are the prophetic and kingly offices?

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Thanks for sharing this letter. The corporate church has always recognized the work of Deacons. The local church, and I am willing to venture in 100% of the CRCNA congregations, are in someway engaged.  World Renew is the CRCNA's  diaconate.  The work they do and the support from the community and governments is significant.   This is one of the areas of the church that does NOT need fixing. Including Deacons as official delegates to synod and add that to the complexity of that oversight body is not needed.

The funds to run World Renew, or for that matter the Diaconates of local churches, are not an issue. Deacons also have regional Diaconal Ministries which work well.

Thanks to Mr. Schoonekamp and the Deacons that have gone before him, after him and are now serving, have done an excellent job in proclaiming the message of Jesus in the work they do both locally and via World Renew (and many other organizations).