My wife used to called me ‘CRC Boy’. It was an endearing tongue-in-cheek title that captured a big part of my identity. I have always been surrounded by Christian Reformed Churches (CRC). I attended one the first 19 years of my life. I visited many others going to youth services or visiting other friends and family. In college, I attended many different expressions of them. I interned at one in British Columbia now called Cornerstone CRC. Of course, I pastored at Immanuel CRC for 6.5 years in Hamilton. Hamilton is also a CRC hotbed. Many Dutch immigrants passed through Hamilton on their way to start other CRC churches across Ontario. My grandparents, for example, got started in the Hamilton community decades ago before they started farming in Blyth, Ontario. In addition to being connected to CRC churches, I have also been heavily influenced by Christian schools. I have attended three different Christian school institutions that have the name ‘Calvin’ in it. Much of my reality up to this point in life has been connected with people who understand and know not only me personally, but me corporately. The CRC and Christian school community is what I have known.
Now I live in Raleigh where this is absolutely no concept of the CRC. Seriously, when I say to people that I am a part of the Christian Reformed Church, they do not really know what to say. Some people have their guard up, wondering whether or not I am trying to start a cult. Rather than convince them that one of the ‘C’ in CRC does not stand for ‘cult’, I try to align myself with the Presbyterians. “We believe the same sorts of things the Presbyterian churches believe,” I say, “except the CRC originates from The Netherlands as opposed to Scotland or England.” People still look at me suspiciously.
There are pros and cons that go with being in a CRC island. I am getting to know people from the Presbyterian Church of America, Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, the United Methodist Church, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and plenty of different forms of Baptists. It’s been fun to get to know some of their own denominational idiosyncrasies. However, it can feel a little lonely knowing that the closest CRC church from here is about 3.5 hours east. Terra Ceia is the only established CRC church in the state of North Carolina. Virginia has some CRCs, and the further north one goes towards New Jersey, the CRC per capita increases. I am attended classis in a couple of weeks in New Jersey, and I will be flying there.
At the same time, God is planting CRC seeds in this region. This coming Sunday a collegue named Sam Boldenow will be preaching at Terra Ceia CRC. I will be evaluating that sermon for classis because Sam is being called to be a CRC campus pastor/church planter at North Carolina State University. This is all very exciting having another ordained CRC brother here in town. Of course, First Reformed Church of Cary is nearby as well. It’s all very curious what God is doing, but I look forward to seeing where the Spirit will blow and how the CRC can reach out and bless this region of the country. I say this because the point of this blog is not to give praise to a denomination, but to celebrate the different expressions of the Body of Christ that can build each other up when we do things in collaboration. People who know me- especially my work with TrueCity over the years in Hamilton- know that I am one who likes to make the circle wider. When that happens, it’s invigorating and inspiriting to see how God is powerfully at work in Christians across denominational divides. Moving to an area as a stranger means leaning on brothers and sisters who have the same faith, who believe in the same Lord, and who have the same Spirit working inside of them.
Do you feel the diversity of the Body of Christ? How have you learned from other denominations and how can you grow to experience the support and love from other brothers and sisters in Jesus?
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
This simplistic picture represents a small percentage of the splintering that has existed in the Protestantism. My hope is that these lines will come closer together without compromising robust theology grounded on Gospel of Jesus Christ.