Executive director of CRC signs letter supporting refugees

Steven Timmermans, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church and Calvin College alumnus, recently signed a letter addressed to President Trump and Vice President Pence regarding refugee resettlement. The letter, put forward by global Christian development organization Word Relief, was published as a full-page ad in The Washington Post on Feb. 8.

In addition to Timmermans, prominent evangelical leaders from all 50 states signed the letter. Tim and Kathy Keller, Ann Voskamp and Richard Mouw were among those who signed. According to the World Relief website, the letter currently has over 3,000 signatures.

The letter affirmed Christians’ call to serve the suffering, insisting, “Jesus makes it clear that our ‘neighbor’ includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.”

While affirming the government’s responsibility to protect citizens, the letter also said “compassion and security can coexist.” The letter declared local churches’ eagerness to welcome all refugees, regardless of faith background.

The letter closed with a commitment to pray for elected officials as well as the vulnerable individuals impacted by recent executive orders.

According to “The Banner,” Timmermans added his signature to the letter as a way of “expressing the intent of Synod 2010’s decision when it said to ‘speak out against and seek to reform laws and practices concerning the treatment of immigrants that appear to be unduly harsh or unjust.”

Timmermans said, “Since there has been no reported evidence of the U.S.’s vetting practices to be deficient and because it is largely people of faith running these organizations for resettlement, which for me engenders trust, I think the actions of the recent executive order fit Synod’s target: treatment … that appear[s] to be unduly harsh or unjust.”

When asked if the addition of Timmermans’ signature had any implications for Calvin College, College Chaplain Mary Hulst said, “Having Steve sign this publicly aligns the CRCNA with an important Biblical mandate to care for the stranger.  We have a long tradition in this denomination of taking in refugees.”

Hulst went on to describe how her childhood church welcomed refugees from Vietnam and how Bethany Christian Services, founded by members of the CRCNA, has a history of serving refugees. In addition, many local Christian Reformed Churches, including Church of the Servant, has programs for refugees.

“At Calvin,” Hulst added, “We have two students that I know of who are refugees.”

The letter was delivered as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s decision to temporarily halt parts of the executive order directly impacting refugee resettlement. Visit here to sign or read the full text of the letter.

“We worship a Lord who was a refugee, and who was descended from people who were constantly on the move,” said Hulst. “This is why God told [his people] to take in the stranger, because they themselves had been strangers in Egypt.”