In 2017, CRC News covered a range of stories, from the political to the personal, and from issues about the church and its ministries to stories about people whose lives have been touched in powerful ways by God.

From website analytics listing the 100 most-read stories of the past 12 months, here are some CRC News highlights that touched and hopefully inspired members and congregations this past year.

Inspire 2017

For the first time ever, the Christian Reformed Church in North America held a denomination-wide gathering for ministry leaders — and they came from all over North America and beyond to Detroit, Mich., for three days in which they heard speakers, attended sessions, and took time for praise.

Called Inspire 2017, it opened with words from Steven Timmermans, executive director of the CRC,  who looked out over the more than 800 people gathered for the opening session and spoke of his hope that they would be strengthened and encouraged by the event.

Readers also liked a story about Liz Curtis Higgs, who talked at Inspire 2017 of how God turned her life around from being a drug-taking DJ known as the “Detroit Lady of Rock” to traveling and writing about how she has “come from glory to glory.”

Synod 2017

As usual, stories coming out of synod, the annual church-business gathering of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, were among the most read for the year as well.

Topping the list of stories from Synod 2017, which met June 9-15, 2017, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., was one that had to do with Operation Christmas Child. After much discussion, Synod 2017 denied a request from Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse) to be included on the Christian Reformed Church’s list of accredited agencies for church offerings due to concerns raised by World Renew, Resonate Global Mission, and the Office of Social Justice.

Other top stories coming out of Synod 2017 included one about synod’s discussion of the name for a new mission agencyResonate Global Mission.

In another, CRC News ran a story about synod discussing editorial oversight of the Do Justice blog. CRC News readers also showed significant interest in a story in which synod called for patience as the church addresses pastoral guidance on same-sex issues.

Speaking to the World

Other stories that drew interest had to do with the CRCNA offering a biblical perspective on matters unfolding in North American society and beyond.

For instance, the CRCNA called for patience and prayer early in 2017 after a gunman opened fire during evening prayers at a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and injuring several more. This hate crime came two days after an executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspending refugee admissions, and restricting entry to the U.S. by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

While the events in Quebec and across the United States were separate from each other, they both forced us to pause and consider how the church should respond to the needs of Muslims, immigrants, and refugees among us.

In addition, responding to events in August involving a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence and deaths, the Christian Reformed Church released a statement from Colin P. Watson, Sr., director of ministries and administration, that called Christians to love, repentance, and prayer.

Ministry to God’s People

At the core of the CRCNA’s work is doing ministry and serving others with the aim of bringing God’s grace to individuals and families and helping to change lives.

One story that drew readers’ attention was about Randall and Beth Grimmius, members of Visalia (Calif.) CRC who had been helping at-risk children and their families for a few years. But then an accident in 2006, which claimed the life of one of Randall’s employees, led them to open their lives in a richer and wider way to people in their community.

Another story was about baby Eloise, born a micropreemie at 25-and-a-half weeks on Aug. 26, 2016. Eloise was extremely small and fragile, weighing just one pound, one ounce. But she moved, wiggling her tiny arms and legs and opening her eyes as her mother held her. Her story was posted in January in connection with Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Two other stories had to do with Our Journey 2020, the CRC’s new ministry plan. One of these was about members of a congregation opening their hearts and lives to ex-prisoners living in their neighborhood. Another article told the story of a man who began a journey of faith after his son was murdered.

Changes in Personnel and Leadership

On June 14, delegates to Synod 2017 welcomed and heard from Zachary King, the new director of Resonate Global Mission.

After serving and helping to shape the structure and mission of the Christian Reformed Church for nearly 45 years, Peter Vander Meulen, coordinator of the Office of Social Justice, retired.

Meanwhile, Rev. Sarah Roelofs was named the new director of the Office of Chaplaincy and Care Ministry, Rev. Reggie Smith was named director of the Office of Race Relations and the Office of Social Justice, and Ron deVries was named to serve as the CRC’s first-ever denomination-wide youth ministry catalyzer, focusing his work on teens and young adults.

Other News

In February 2017 the board of Back to God Ministries International approved a motion to sell its Palos Heights, Ill., facilities and move its ministry headquarters into the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s Grand Rapids, Mich., offices.

And in May the Pastor Church Resources office launched a new online process by which churches and pastors can find each other.

Deaths

Vernon J. Ehlers, a former Calvin College physics professor and long-time United States Congressman, died in August at age 83. He often told his children and grandchildren that he wanted to leave the world a better place than when he was born — and by all accounts that is just what he did.

Clarence Doornbos, a retired teacher and veteran Sea to Sea bicyclist, was killed by a driver one morning in July as he was riding his bike near his home and training to join this past summer’s cross-country bike tour.

Rev. Hal Bode and Rev. Herman Keizer, former leaders of the CRC’s Office of Chaplaincy and Care Ministry, died only weeks apart near the end of 2017.