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News from the Pews

Read personal stories of changing attitudes, transforming hearts, and congregation members being moved to action. Learn how churches and individuals have responded when faced with injustice. 

2 Summer Reads for your Anti-racism Journey

I’ve recently read three books which have helped me to become aware of my privilege. They can help us recognize how white privilege has shaped social structures, opportunities, and hopes – not only for white people, but for people of colour, as well.

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Becoming Aware of My Privilege

If you grow up with some privilege, you probably don’t recognize it. Unconsciously, you take your “what is” for the furniture of the universe – “just the way things are,” not only for you, but for everybody else. Sure, you may see on television or via social media evidence that people in other places face bad situations – war, famine, natural disasters of one sort or another.

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Justice Practices for a Fast-Paced World

Do you find working for justice overwhelming? Same. It’s overwhelming because there is no-one-size-fits-all formula that lays out best next steps. It’s overwhelming because it taps into a lot of emotion. It’s overwhelming because there is so much need for justice that we often don’t even know where to start. Pursuing justice can feel overwhelming because our world moves so quickly, but justice comes slowly.

Our Cloud of Witnesses: Pastor Ken Vander Wall

While there were several members of the great cloud of witnesses who shepherded me into the worldview and polity of the Christian Reformed Church, one of the more memorable is my friend Pastor Ken Vander Wall.

Rev. Ken Vander Wall is an ordained minister of the Christian Reformed Church who serves as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Campus Minister at William Paterson and Farleigh Dickerson universities. He is also always on call for members of Madison Avenue CRC in Paterson, New Jersey (NJ) who desire his counsel or help.

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Our Cloud of Witnesses: Liz Tolkamp

We follow in the steps of many Christian Reformed justice-seekers who have gone before us, faithful Christians who have lived out the radical call of the Gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Who is in your cloud of witnesses? Who inspires you to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”? Like the writer of Hebrews, let’s remember our cloud of witnesses and be encouraged for the race ahead of us. Follow along with the series by signing up here.

 

150th Birthday Reflections

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to venture to Toronto with two colleagues and sisters in Christ to see Kent Monkman’s exhibit Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience. Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who uses art to take us on a profound and provocative “journey through Canada’s history beginning a hundred and fifty years before confederation” (quoted from exhibit’s brochure).  

Human Trafficking and the Freedom Challenge

Although I know that this world is riddled with brokenness and injustice, I sometimes feel removed and disengaged. I am a stay-at-home mom to 3 school-age children, living on a dairy farm in rural Saskatchewan. Talk about isolated! In my quaint little community, it is easier to focus on the needs of my family and myself, rather than open my eyes and heart to social justice issues of the world. It would be oh-so-simple to make some cookies for Bible study, help my kids with their reading books, fry some ground beef for supper, and call it a day!

No Such Thing as "Away"

Every few days, I take a small metal pail full of vegetable scraps and fruit peels to a black compost bin in my backyard. Thermometers in Edmonton dip well below zero Celsius in January, so it requires some resolve to take grab the bin’s soon-to-be-freezing metal handle and take food scraps to the compost bin rather than dumping them in my waste basket. When the temperatures get so cold that my beard freezes, I find myself asking: Does it really matter how I throw this stuff away?

The American Dream, Canadian "Diversity", and the Blanket Exercise

I had never taken the time to reflect and ask myself, “I wonder how living in North America feels from the Indigenous perspective.” I was familiar with the history and many of the injustices. This is a bit embarrassing to admit, given that I’ve worked in full-time ministry in multi-ethnic contexts for nearly a decade and even teach and facilitate regularly on issues of race, ethnicity, identity, and culture. But I had never truly considered the history of North America from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and genuinely tried to empathize.

Justice is Important, But Supper is Essential

We’ve made it through an election cycle, one that has stoked old divisions and fears, and caused uncertainty for Americans and Canadians alike. As we move forward, it is worth remembering that much of the real work of citizenship—in whatever country you call home, and (more importantly) in God’s here-and-coming kingdom—begins at our tables.

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