Monday, March 10, 2008

Exeter Christian Reformed Church Council Boycotts Own Prayer Service!

Shame. Shame. Shame.

A number of readers have contacted me to tell me that Council has apparently boycotted it's own prayer service last Friday night.

I invite a Council member to please comment on why they would set up a prayer service, as one reader suggests, only to boycott the service? From this vantage point it appears to be nothing more than an extension of an earlier Council ban on having Pastor Willemina Zwart preach from our pulpit. Was Pastor Zwart allowed to preach because it wasn't a Sunday?

Rev. Zwart, we apologize for this utter embarrassment. To quote one reader, "The lack of testosterone was palpable and galvanized the notion that Exeter CRC's Council has no intention of calling a truce."



Anonymous said...

and this surprised whom?

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for council because we are under a gag order. But, be rest assured that this blog is being read by many Council members. I don't agree with what we are doing and will just pass my time until the end of my term. I would hope that we can respond to this post but I'm not putting my head on the chopping block. I have to live and work in this community.

Jonathan said...

Wow. A gag order. That sounds important. I guess hiding at home, cowering behind your bible, when a woman makes her triumphal entry into town is pretty serious business.

the Samaritan said...

Having been in council in the past it is not that unusual to see this attitude. Don't talk to the congregation about this as they'll just get upset and confused. In silence there is perceived wisdom. When all fails, just say you're doing the Lords will as written in scriptures and forget where the Spirit is trying to lead you. Hmmm, maybe the Holy Spirit should have read Pauls letters first....

jonathan said...

Anonymous council member,

I was just rereading the comments, and I realize it looks like I was directing my comment at you personally. I was actually referring to the gag order, not you.

I would say, though, on a more personal note, that I don't think the congregation elected you to sit on your hands. You accepted this position, and I would suggest you follow where you are being led on this issue, both in council, and in the community where you live and work.

s. said...

The whole "council under a gag order" thing just reinforces the picture of the council as a boy's club. They are just taking care of themselves and are not really there for the congregation - are only representing themselves.

Anonymous said...

I was at this service and was very blessed by it.The pastor did not come as a speaker but as an ordained minister in the CRC and was respected as such.
How sad for the community to see this church struggling with equality.The people attending the service from the community were very aware of the stand the minister and council have taken and why they were absent.How must we be viewed by the world? Surely not as christians?

Anonymous said...

I agree. It seems that for every step we take forward we take two steps backward. I am embarrassed to take my neighbours to our church because of it's views on equality. Women just don't need to be beat over the head about this. It just doesn't cut it in the year 2008.

I too, was very blessed that Rev. Zwart came and I very much enjoyed her sermon. She is a very brave women to come to a church where she knows that Council views her as the enemy.

I just don't get it!

And yet, no explanation from Council. (Sorry, "gag order" is not a reason, it's a reaction.

Annette said...

Was it a boycott or seen as a woman's day of prayer? Like seriously,... it's billed as a women's day of prayer. So why would you expect men to go to it?

Have they gone in the past? What's the history behind it all?

I didn't go...does that mean I boycotted it? or am I excused because I'm a woman?

Anonymous said...

This service was at one time a woman's day of prayer and generally only women went.But that changed a few years ago and is now called World Day of Prayer.The service is prepared by the Women's Inter-Church Council of Canada.170 countries participate and over 2,000 communities across Canada hold a service.
Often a social need or third world country is the focus and this year it was Guyana.Our prayers went to the women in this poverty stricken country.Domestic violence,aids and cervical cancer are among the few problems women there must deal with.
It would have been a good thing if the minister from this church had attended or some of the council members.It would have shown community spirit seeing as the CRC in Exeter has participated for the last twenty plus years.We should all participate in these services! How can we be relevant in this world if we don't acknowledge it?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonathan said...

I must say that I am quite flattered that I've been googled. I mean, we've all googled ourselves, but to be googled by others? Surely a sign of success!

Concerned anonymous person, you mention in your post that you are concerned about 'Jonathan', but you don't explain what concerns you so much. You just quote him. Perhaps you feel your concerns are self-evident, and plain to see. I think you are reading me too literally, because I myself don't see them. In fact, I am happy to report I quite agree with "Jonathan-from-three-years-ago", and I almost blush at his enthusiasm. That guy has love to share!

I think the least you could do is explain what *concerns* you, and especially in the context of a blog about the role of women in church governance. I am not seeing the connection.

I get the impression that you are directing your critique at me personally, while my arguments are left unscathed. Perhaps you would have more success in convincing others if you challenged my arguments instead of me. Am I an easier target than what I have to say? Ad hominem is a sign of desperation, ( and I'm sure you don't want to do my work for me.

On a different issue, if anyone wishes to discuss with me a completely different topic, that of gays and lesbians in the Christian community, and the sanctity of their marriages, feel free to email me at Even your concerns would be most welcome.

Anonymous said...

You're on the right track Jonathan. We share your concerns and love your pieces. Love the debate and pointing us back to the point.

Annette said...

That doesn't change what I said though. It is still seen as a women's day of prayer. Even if it's billed as "world day of prayer" it's still seen as the women's day of prayer. It's lead by women, it's about women. Not saying it wouldn't be nice to have the men involved as well, but generally speaking it's seen as a women's day of action. Men are being respectful to us actually if they do stay away.

Jonathan said...

Although the World Day of Prayer is written and organized by women, everyone is invited to attend and participate. This includes children, teenagers, women, the elderly and yes, even men. It's actually the other way around, Annette. Men show respect by *participating* in a special day of prayer, not by *avoiding* a special day of prayer.

While many persons living in Exeter may have been unaware of this event, I am sure that the council of Exeter CRC was aware of it, seeing as it was taking place in their building. As hosts, they would also be aware that they were quite welcome, and maybe even expected to attend. This is why it is difficult to understand their conspicuous absence.

Anonymous said...

Dear Annette. Didn't see you there. In fact didn't see any council member's wives but one. You're church was part of this. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Annette; are you saying that men stayed away from the prayer service because it was organized by women,lead by women and was about women?
That would be pretty terrible since the violence women endure, especially in third world countries,is caused by men.Women there are considered nothing more than a possession,to do with as you please.Worth less than an animal.
You only have to read the paper or watch the news to know what violence women endure at the hands of a man.And what hurts a woman,hurts her children.
We may think that we don't bear any responsibility for that,but we do here in our own little community.The church is to show the world the love of our God.How He wants us to live and how to treat each other. We are the wealthy and educated ones. We are to set the example.Discriminating against 50% of the congregation does not show the world anything but that we are the same as them.It is abuse as well.
Men in this community should have shown their respect by attending the service.It would have made them aware of the serious problem there is "out there" and how the church must work at fixing it, beginning right in its own bsck yard.