What I Love About the Canadian National Gathering

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In May 2016, something exciting took place in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario! People from all across the country came together for a few short days to see what God was doing, and is doing, in the Christian Reformed Church in Canada.

Sunday school directors, GEMS leaders, Coffee Break leaders, Men’s life leaders, Elders, Deacons, Pastors, and more came together, probably all asking the same question, “What is this National Gathering all about?" Walking away from it, I felt there was a collective sense that God is working through us as a denomination in a variety of different ways.

As a member of the planning committee, let me tell you a few things about my experience, and why I love the National Gathering that we had in 2016 and why I look forward to the National Gathering in 2019.

One of the main reasons I love the National Gathering is because I love the church, and more specifically, the Christian Reformed Church. I grew up in Southern California attending a CRC that my mom was raised in. I worshiped in other area CRC’s in Southern California, and to me that defined what it meant to be CRC.

Then I went to college at Dordt College. There I was able to experience the CRC in NW Iowa and experienced what it meant to be CRC, more specifically in NW Iowa. From there I went to Grand Rapids to attend Calvin Seminary. While there I was able to experience the CRC in Western Michigan and what it meant to be CRC there. I was an intern in Minnesota for a summer at a CRC, and an Intern in SW Ontario for a year and experienced what it meant to be CRC in each of those places as well. For the last 10 years I have been in Southern Alberta experiencing what it means to be CRC in Southern Alberta.

Why do I share all of this with you? I have been able to experience the CRC in a number of different ways throughout my lifetime. Sometimes when we grow up in a certain geographic area, and especially if we stay in one geographic area, we tend to think, “This is how it is everywhere.” Yet there is so much variety as you get out of your own area.

Sometimes when we grow up in a certain geographic area, and especially if we stay in one geographic area, we tend to think, “This is how it is everywhere.” 

What does it mean to be CRC? What does it mean to be CRC in Canada? What does it mean to be CRC in your specific geographic area? What are the differences? What are the similarities?

We all might have an idea of what we think it means. But when we get together with others, it might open our eyes to see the broader work of the church and God’s kingdom. What was exciting to me about the National Gathering 2016 was the common sense of we are working together for God’s kingdom. We were able to share stories with each other. We were able to support each other, and encourage each other. And we were able to hear how the church that we belong to as a denomination is being used by God for his kingdom purposes.

What was exciting to me about the National Gathering 2016 was the common sense of we are working together for God’s kingdom.

I loved attending the National Gathering for a number of different reasons. But to see a variety of different people and leaders from different congregations from all across the country of Canada come together for one purpose: to see how God is working and to discern how God is leading us, that is an incredible gift. I look forward to 2019 to be able to hear more stories of how God is working through us, and to be able to discern where God is leading us in the next few years.

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I've grown up in the CRC; gone through catechism and youth group, attended Christian schools at various levels, served several terms as elder, delegated to the Synod of the CRC a couple of time.

As I reflect on the CRC and especially on our focus these days on programs, activities and initiatives, I can't help but look at the lives of John the Baptist and Jesus. What was the focus of their ministry and would it be different today?

John the Baptist preached: "Repent. For the Kingdom of God is at hand." Jesus, after he was baptized by John, preached the same message: "Repent. For the Kingdom of God is at hand."

What would that message look like in 2018 Canada? What do we need to repent of ... individually and corporately? Do we devote enough time and energy on the significance of worship and preaching, or is it incidental as we offer our menu of weekly church activities?