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Widening the Tribe

Giving thanks for 75 years of reaching out through Christian journalism

I started writing columns for Christian Courier (CC) about four years ago. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I have writing them. Four years of column writing is a pretty puny time-period when one considers that this fine periodical is celebrating its 75th anniversary this fall. As a Dutch immigrant kid in the 1950s and ‘60s, I remember seeing my parents faithfully reading Calvinist Contact, the forerunner of the paper you hold in your hands or see online. Very few Canadian periodicals can claim a continuous publishing record to match that of CC. Perhaps this longevity can be attributed to the fine writing and relevant topics addressed in its pages. Much of CC’s success is no doubt also attributable to the tribal loyalty of Dutch Calvinists in the Kuyperian tradition who, in addition to establishing many Reformed churches, also founded Christian day schools, colleges, a graduate school, farmers federations, a labour union, a political action group, homes for the handicapped and homes for seniors. So, naturally, they also wanted to have a newspaper for “our people.” 

A cartoon from CC in the 90s.

Beyond the tribe

I grew up Christian Reformed, faithfully attending church twice each Sunday; I did Profession of Faith at age 15 or so, was a member of Calvinist Cadets and participated in my local Young Peoples’ Society. I graduated from a Christian junior high school in 1960 and, much to my parents’ regret, could not attend a Christian senior high school because one was not available in Edmonton at that time. So I was enrolled in the public (read: secular) Eastglen Composite High School. While almost all my boyhood acquaintances and friends were from my Dutch reformed community, I had made one very good, non-CRC “Canadian” friend whom I met by chance in my neighbourhood. I thus had a suspicion that not all non-Dutch Calvinist kids were bad; but, on the whole, I was pretty sure that most Canadians were pagans from whom it was a good idea to keep one’s distance. Fancy words such as “antithesis” were already familiar to me by the time I began high school. While I was aware of the absence of overtly religious practices such as prayer and Bible reading at Eastglen High, I was amazed to find students of other Christian traditions (as well as others), and many agnostics who struck me as pretty decent human beings. I formed deep friendships with them that still exist today. I learned to appreciate that Ukrainians, Poles, Icelanders, Brits and many kids from other “tribes” and nations were all part of the marvelous fabric of humanity (though, on reflection, I regret that my high school experience was mostly bereft of any contact with kids of colour or those of aboriginal heritage). 

So, congratulations and thanks, Christian Courier, for 75 years of Christian journalism. And especially, congratulations on greatly broadening outreach beyond the Dutch CRC tribe. Keep up the good work with the realization that God’s Kingdom embraces all tribes and nations.

This article first appeared in our October 12, 2020 issue under the title “Congratulations and Thanks.”


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