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On another note, what exactly is "organizational-justice"? Who is bringing up that subject and why? Back in October of 2021 the "Banner" published a document entitled "The CRC in Canada: A Field Guide". The subtitle reads: "Your guide to the history and development of Canadian ministry in the Christian Reformed Church." The opneing paragraph simply indicates that CRCs on both sides of the boarder have "wrestling with the ministry...should mesh together."  Then follows a question: How did we get here? Answer: It's complicated. The obvious reaction for any alert reader would be what do you mean by the question. Where is "here" and how did we jump to "complicated" so quickly. Then, to make things more problematic the second paragraph opens with the following: "In fact, to write this guide The Banner went back through more than 100 years of synod records to help trace the origins of those wounds and frustrations." (italics mine). What? I can assure you that there isn't a single member of the CRC in the United States of America, not one congregation south of the border that would characterize our relationship with those congregations north of the border with those two words (wounds & frustrations). I'm calling attention to this fact because it speaks to the underlying problem no one seems to deal with. The USA and Canada are entirely different cultures. We share a common language and heritage but we are not the same culturally. Canadians are, in the main, keenly aware of this fact. In fact they celebrate it. It is an essential component of their identity. They are "not" American. No American says such a thing in reverse. I have never heard a single American say "I am not a Canadian". It doesn't enter their head to think or say such a thing. I realize this is just personal observations but it is nevertheless valid to point this out as key to understanding that SALT is never going to solve the issue of perceived "organizational injustice" and the wounds and frustration inflicted on Canadians by Americans. The "Guide" referenced earlier runs 25 pages cataloging every injustice, wrong, hurt, slight, oversight, snub, and disregard felt by Canadians in the CRC. It reminds me of all 5 of children going through their teens and feeling their mother and I were heartless, unfeeling callous and unjust. Then they moved out and moved on. I think its time the Canadian CRC stands on its own. Once we do that I think we will all get along famously and then we can write up joint partnership on any number of joint ventures. However, until that happens I think we're going to be seeing more "wounds and frustrations", most of which the average American member of the CRC will remain blissfully unaware. 

Regarding the matter of "paying" for the expense of maintaining offices in Burlington: How are those expenses being paid for today? CRC's in Canada are paying those expenses already. With regard to spinning off any or all of the associate organizations of the CRC: by all means and the sooner the better. Let them all solicit support from folks who truly want to be invested in and fully supportive of these ministries. In the long run these ministries will gain more support and funding.  The label "red herring" with regard to pointing out that the cultural divide between USA and Canada is dismissive and fails to reckon with profound distinctions between these two nation-states. Is Alberta different culturally than either Ontario or British Columbia or the Maritime provinces. Of course it is. However, no one would assert that Alberta is virtually "North-Montana" with regard to "culture". This brings me back to the document "The CRC in Canada: A Field Guide". It's a 25 page litany of grievances. How do we understand the significance of that "record-of-wrongs" spanning a century. This isn't a "red-herring". It summarizes the over-all psychological impact among Canadian CRC members, many of whom are second generation immigrants from the Netherlands, who are simply trying to partner with another group of CRC members, most of whom are third, fourth or fifth generation Americans and these two groups don't really do not understand each other anymore. The effort to bridge the divide, which is what the SALT document attempts to do, is really nothing more than nostalgia at this point. We should just admit the obvious. Canadians CRC members are culturally distinct and ought to be set free to pursue their unique vision of the kingdom rooted in that distinction. We did that with other nations. Why not simply do that with our Canadian brothers and sisters and move on. Let's end the heartache outlined in that "Field-Guide" once and for all. 

What we have in common is not in dispute. Separation would be less expensive than adding yet another layer of administrative executives (General Secretary w/ staff). We already have Burlington & Grand Rapids offices fully staffed. How many of these functions are necessary? Does every ministry need to be mirrored  on both sides of the border? Our local congregations keep getting smaller or fewer in number, but our "over-head" never ceases to grow. That is not a sustainable model. Aside from these stewardship issues, we still have the 'grievances" outlined in the "Field-Guide". We have 25 pages listing a century of "wounds and frustrations". There is nothing in the SALT discussion that is going to modify or heal this litany of injury. My prediction is that the soon to be appointed "general-secretary" will be mightily discouraged in short order for the same reasons the last four "executives" in the Burlington office left their assignments earlier than expected.  Is this where the "organizational-justice" issue comes into play? I think so. 

I agree completely. It's clear from the way virtually all communication, media, publications, etc. coming out of the offices in GR and Burlington that those folks truly believe they are the "church" and that classis and the local congregations are merely branch offices. We should review Vision 21 as soon as possible, while we still have critical mass. However, I'm afraid we're going to see the "system" double-down on the decision patterns that got us here in the first place. We are not far from "point of no return" with regard to sustainability. I'm curious about whether or not anyone in GR is paying any attention to the "Alliance of Reformed Churches" phenomenon. I know it involves mostly RCA congregations, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if a significant numbers of CRC congregations end up joining them. 

The opening sentence of the answer to question # 6 ought to give all the "rank-and-file" members of each and every local congregation "pause". It reads, "The Christian Reformed Church in North America is made up of eight ministry organizations and educational institutions, all of which were once created by an act of synod." My hunch most folks are scratching their heads thinking "what about the local congregation"? Where do "we" fit into this system? Did the authors of this answer miss something or omit something or take something for granted? I don't think so. I think the CRCNA is exactly as they define here: "eight ministry organizations and educational institutions, all of which were created by an act of synod". I think its high time we come to terms with the state of affairs vis-a-vis the local churches and the CRCNA. The local congregations are simply the "funding-source" for the CRCNA. That's it. All talk about "we're in this together" is not so. Our ecclesiastical admistrators have grown larger and larger by acts of Synod. This is true. But these ministries and educational institutions have also grown further and further apart from the local congregations. Add to that the issue of bi-nationality and things become exponentially more complicated. It's clear from reading all the documents regarding S.A.L.T. that Burlington and Grand Rapids are not complimentary system.  It's clear they're in competition with each other. At least that's what the Canadian side of the aisle seems to think. We have something like a sibling rivalry going on here and we ought to admit it and reckon with the implications of doing so. Isn't it time for the bi-nationality arrangement to be concluded? The Canadians seem to want to be set free to pursue their own vision of ministry in the context and culture of Canada. They should be set free to do so. Then the Americans can simply go on doing what they've been doing. We can cut costs and reduce staff and simply get back to doing what we all thought the administrative office were supposed to be doing in the first place and that is support the local congregations in advancing the kingdom locally. However that brings us full circle: we don't belong to the CRCNA. How did we get here? 

Izaak: The "body" to be discerned isn't Jesus'...it's the church/congregation. The apostle isn't chastising the Corinthians for failure to know Jesus as lord and savior. He is upset because the wealthy left out the poor. They created a division in the "body" where isn't supposed to be one. We do the exact same thing when we leave out the children of believers from celebrating the sacrament of the covenant that is ours in Christ. Our congregation has had children at the Lord's table for more than 14 years already. The sacrament is all about what the Lord says to us, not what we say to him. What we say in response is our "profession-of-faith" and it marks our entry into confessing member status in the body of Christ as "believers". 

Izaak:

The two sacraments do not function differently. They function the same way. Also, I didn't say that taking communion is a profession of faith. Both sacraments are means of grace. According to the Heidelberg Catechism they are signs and seals of the covenant presented in the O.T. and N.T. which combined have their "yes" in Jesus Christ. They are by definition lesser than the word of God preached. These two covenantal sacraments are intended to supplement the gospel of God. Communion doesn't supersede the preaching ministry. We bring covenant children to church to be placed under the Word of God preached, ipso facto they ought to be participating in the sacraments. 

With regard to Paul's admonition that "people" examine themselves I take it to mean that adult believers are the intended recipients of that caution. It is unthinkable that children in the N.T. era would have been excluded from the communion table. It was the leadership of the church that was tolerating the fracturing of the body. We do the exact same thing when we suddenly render children, who were participants in worship, into spectators of a sacred right that suddenly doesn't included them. We should never have allowed this custom to take hold in the first place. 

Just curious: how many of our worship facilities across the CRCNA are not "gun-free-zones" on Sundays? My hunch is that many if not a majority of them, at least in the USA are not. Ours certainly isn't.

As citizens of 2 kingdoms,we have an admittedly uneasy relationship with the 2nd amendment since its the one that protects all the rest. I"m especially fond of the 1st since it protect the right to worship with out the fearing the government. Plus, holding the government accountable to the consent of the governed is what the 2nd is all about. 

I, too, never thought of the message of Esther as having anything to do with the right to self-preservation against the vagaries of the state, but since the book says what it says about just how it was the Jews survived the king's edict, I think its a point well taken. 

Why do we assume our president in fact said this? The reports are unsubstantiated. In fact they are reliably rebuffed by others in the room.  Dick Durbin has been guilty of making stuff up in the past. I find it curious that we assume that a man who has previously been hailed as champion of the black community in our country has suddenly become  a raging racist. He isn't. Im really disappointed that any pastor would take as gospel anything that is reported by partisan politicians. Why aren't we celebrating the lowest unemployment rate of black Americans since records have been kept. I think that's something to wonder about and ask what has precipitated such a development. 

Darren:

The fact that there is yet another CRCNA ministry plan is a case in point. Did that ministry plan flow from a broad-spectrum conversation with the local congregations? No...it was, like all the other plans, generated by the BOT and the machinery located at 1700 28th St and its counterpart in Burlington Ontario....Our 'Doctrine of Discovery" study is another case in point. Which congregation or classis asked for this study? Was there an overture from a local congregation, submitted to classis adopted and then sent to Synod? No. And yet, the report gets a hearing because somehow or other it makes it's way into the agenda. Things are up-side-down in our system and we keep asking about how can we affect renewal. The very structures, as they now exist, seem to be the problem. Streamlining them isn't going to jix anything. What is needed is a radical redesign across the board. Is it reasonable to ask the folks who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo to create the new paradigm? Of course not. What will be the tipping point towards radical change is anyone's guess at this point. My hunch is that we must suffer much further decline, lead by the current mind-set, before we truly commit to a paradigm shift on the order of magnitude required to get the CRCNA re-deployed into an effective agency of the kingdom. I was ordained in 1987 and the goal then was 400,000 by 2000. Look where we are today. Nothing has changed. In fact we appear to be willing to double down on current priorities and practices. 

It is simply not the place of the denominational leadership to write ministry plans period. The denominational leadership is not the church. Churches write ministry plans. The denominational folks could provide a great service if they provided expertise in assisting the local church write effective and viable ministry plans in the local context. The church isn't located at 1700 28th Street Grand Rapids MI...it is located in neighborhoods all across the fruited plain coast to coast...This, I believe, is the whole point of the discussion. We simply no longer need most of the functions and personnel located in GR in order to carry out the mission of the local church. This is the paradigm shift we've been processing as local churches. All the assistance we need to formulate, train and carry-out our work is available "off-the-shelf" for pennies on the dollar from a broad spectrum of the "church" writ-large. These are relentless facts and we need to account for them. 

Staci: The whole point of this article is precisely about who is undermining whom. The ministry belongs to the local church. The administrative office personnel don't speak for the church. They're supposed to facilitate the ministry of the local church, not supplant it. Local churches in our current paradigm are essentially nothing more than a funding source for the agenda developed at 1700 28th. Street G.R. MI. The fact that there is a ministry plan originating from that address is precisely the nature of our problem. Our system is up-side-down. Too much money is moving in the wrong direction. The local church's own ministry is subordinated to national and international agenda. The current model is simply not sustainable. Sam is asking us to rethink and re-imagine our options while we still have critical mass. 

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