Congregational Resources for Disability Week


Disability Week (October 10 – 16) encourages congregations to grow in becoming places of belonging for everyone and places to engage their gifts in ministry—with a particular focus on people with disabilities.

Christian Reformed churches (CRCNA) and ministries are encouraged to celebrate Disability Week October 10 through 16, 2016. These dates correspond with Reformed Church in America (RCA) Disability Awareness Sunday and with various disability organizations in North America. Depending on your church’s calendar, other Sundays would be appropriate as well.

Continue reading @ CRC Resources for Disability Week

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Why Reformed Christians Hate Being “Reformed”


I greatly appreciated these words and thought they were worth sharing with those who read my blog.

Stacey Midge

The author of today’s letter is Audrey Edewaard, a 2016 graduate of Western Theological Seminary who was a Corresponding Delegate to this year’s General Synod. Send your #WeAretheRCA letter to revstacey@gmail.com, or if you’d like an additional layer of anonymity, drop me a comment and we’ll make other arrangements. 

Dear Reformed Christians and RCA leaders,

My name is Audrey Edewaard, and I unabashedly love the RCA (it’s actually a bit embarrassing). My denominational identity has been nurtured by a lifetime spent in the RCA, thoughtful professors at Western Theological Seminary and Calvin College, my exuberant family, my call to preach and to teach, and ineffable moments of humility. My love for the RCA is largely influenced by a Reformed articulation of Scripture, tradition, and witness.

One of the many fundamental characteristics I love about the RCA is its commitment to be transformed and transforming; reformed and reforming (whichever slogan you…

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Engage 2016: A Multiethnic Gathering—Why You Should Be There


This summer from June 8-10 plan to attend “Engage 2016: A Multiethnic Gathering” hosted by the CRCNA and located on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Read more . . . Engage 2016: A Multiethnic Gathering—Why You Should Be There

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In Praise of Urban Public Schools


kooyman-school-faces

This is a reblog from The Twelve written by my daughter-in-law, Kate Kooyman

My oldest son is in kindergarten this year. We send him to our neighborhood school, and we live in an urban neighborhood. But don’t let that impress you.

Granted, I’m one of those annoying urban-public-school evangelists. I believe deeply that every kid has a right to a good education. I am totally convinced that racism shows up most visibly in our community’s educational disparities. I am sold that the solution is integration — I want more white folks to send their kids to city schools.

But here’s the truth: in spite of all those justice commitments, I’m not actually “taking one for the team” when it comes to our neighborhood school. I’m not saving it, or shaping it, or helping it, or fixing it. It doesn’t need me to do any of those things. My kid goes to a great school. My kid’s school has a perception problem, not a performance problem.

Here are ten things that I love about my kid’s urban public school.

1. I love his school uniform. I love that I can say “put on your school clothes” and that means one specific thing. He is more independent, and less stressed in the morning, making his mommy more sane and less mean. Plus he looks so handsome in his collar and khakis. Win, win, win.

2. I love witnessing the art of teaching. His teachers have perfected their craft. They are serious, they are educated, they are experts. When you go into his classroom, you see someone who is differentiating their style and content for such a wide variety of student needs it is astonishing. You see someone who is working fully 400% harder than I’ve worked on anything all week. We need to put an end to the Myth of the Bad Teacher. The teachers I know are the definition of professionals.

3. I love that there’s no culture of over-the-top birthday parties. Somebody wave a $25 Target receipt for a kid you barely know and who your child barely likes and say, “Amen.”

4. I love when my son asks me questions about something he overhears on NPR — “What’s a Muslim?” or “Where do refugees come from?” — and we can think of a classmate to help answer the question. I love that he has a little less to unlearn about an implied “us” and “them” because he belongs to a community that is diverse.

5. I love hot lunch, which is free for every student in our district, and is way more nutritious and creative than my turkey sandwich and baby carrots.

6. I love the local restaurant that raised thousands of dollars to buy tablets for our school. I love that our kids are going to be just as tech-savvy as any other American kid, and they’re going to know that it’s because their community is expecting that they will be opening businesses, running for office, pastoring churches someday soon. And their community invests in them so they can do it well — ‘cause their success is connected to our whole neighborhood’s success.

7. I love that my son is learning that his culture is not “the” culture. I love that he experiences moments of being the majority and moments of being the minority, and is gaining skills in navigating both those worlds. I love that someday he will be a better employee, a better church member, a better voter, a better person because he’s had both those experiences.

8. I love parent-teacher conferences. I get a stack of papers that all show tangible ways that my kid is making academic progress according to his own goals. He’s reading, he’s writing, he’s adding and subtracting at rates that surprise me. His school is a place where he is challenged.

9. I love that we can ride our bikes to school. (We’ve done that once, because I’m constantly late. But it was really charming when we did it.)

10. I love that one of his classes is Strings, so I get to watch him and 29 other 5-year olds try to play the violin together. It’s pure comedy, and totally adorable.

That’s just what I love today — ask me again tomorrow and I could come up with ten more.

I have a lot of prayers for my kid. But I think the one I pray for most often is for belonging. I want him to know that he is a miracle — unique, beloved, important. And I want him to know that he is part of a larger whole — a community of miracles, “woven together in a single garment of destiny.” I want him to know that he is vitally important, and so is every person he interacts with. I want him to see the very image of God in the faces of his neighbors, and treat them with the dignity that such holiness affords them. I want his life to reflect the reality that we belong to each other.

Our humble neighborhood school is showing me little answers to those prayers every day.

Thanks be to God.

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Needed: A Paradigm Shift for CRC Deacons


We need to shift from viewing diaconal ministry primarily as something done “to” or “for” others to more of one which does ministry “with” our neighbors, communities, businesses, and churches.

To read more of my post about and for deacons in the Christian Reformed Church: Needed: A Paradigm Shift for CRC Deacons | The Network

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Big Changes Ahead for Deacons in the CRC


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I recently wrote a post for the CRC’s Network blog addressing some of the changes ahead for deacons following this year’s historic decision by Synod.

Instead of functioning largely as “lone rangers”, the approved changes invite deacons to equip and provide opportunities for members of the congregation to participate in diaconal work. . . .  Read more at: What Changes for Deacons? | The Network

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My Favorite Rendition of Cohen’s Hallelujah


I think this rendition of the Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah, as sung byKarin Bergquist of Over the Rhine to be truly inspirational.

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LENT 2015: A reflection for the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero


PAX CHRISTI USA

by Jean Stokan and Scott Wright

Romero mural

Today we commemorate the life of one of our contemporary witnesses, Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered at the altar while celebrating the Eucharist. Like the martyrs of the early church, Archbishop Romero gave his life out of love rather than worship and serve false gods. Romero’s life bore witness to the truth that sets one free to lay down one’s life out of love for enemies and friends alike, as his own words and life testify:

We believe in Jesus who came to bring life in its fullest and we believe in a living God who gives life to humankind and wants all to live in truth. These radical truths of the faith become truths–radical truths–when the Church inserts herself in the midst of the life and death of the people. It is there that the Church is presented–as it is presented to…

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My Review of Pastrix on Goodreads


Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & SaintI loved reading this book! I felt like I was sitting in a coffee shop with the author as she honestly told me me about who she is, her journey from addiction to recovery and what led her to become a Lutheran pastor of a very unconventional congregation in Denver. Rarely have I read something from a Christian author that is as transparent, vulnerable and authentic as Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Her story is a refreshing gift for anyone with or willing to have an open mind to not only what she has to share but the earthy yet authentic way she tells it. If you are familiar with 12 step recovery meetings and know how raw and real the sharing can get at times, and how God’s loving presence is at times palpable in the midst of such meetings, reading Pastrix is much like that. If you are easily offended by or have difficulty getting past the use of profanity and graphic language, this could be a challenging book for you to read. Even so I encourage you to make an honest effort to read this powerful testimony about God’s mercy and redemptive love to the very end. Whether you are a Christian, skeptic, agnostic, seeker, from another faith tradition or simply spiritual, I am fairly confident you will appreciate Nadia’s story of hope, love, acceptance and redemptive healing.

View all my reviews

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Recommended Reading: Friendship at the Margins


I recently wrote the following and posted it on the Christian Reformed Church Network site. I decided to share it here because I think this book is a must read for anyone engaged in ministry with those on the margins of society . . . and too often viewed merely as prospective converts or simply as the needy who need us and what we have.

Friendship_at_the_MarginsWhen I began reading, Friendship at the Margins by Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl, I quickly realized that it would be a valuable resource for deacons and others engaged in “word and deed” ministries or missions with individuals on the margins of society. I have gained a much greater appreciation for the importance and priority of and need for developing genuine friendships with those we serve.

 

From the back cover:

In our anonymous and dehumanized world, the simple practice of friendship is radically countercultural. But sometimes Christians inadvertently marginalize and objectify the very ones they most want to serve.

Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh, and theologian and ethicist Christine Pohl show how friendship is a Christian vocation that can bring reconciliation and healing to our broken world. They contend that unlikely friendships are at the center of an alternative paradigm for mission, where people are not objectified as potential converts but encountered in a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity.

When we befriend those on the margins of society by practicing hospitality and welcome, we create communities where righteousness and justice can be lived out. Heuertz and Pohl’s reflections offer fresh insight into Christian mission and what it means to be the church in the world today.

Visit the InterVarsity Press website to learn more about the book’s contents, read reviews and, if you choose, purchase at a 20% discount.

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