My Allegiance

29 08 2011

by WIM VAN KLINKEN, International Headquarters director

Recently, a pastor asked me two questions that in hindsight are greatly interrelated. Knowing I moved recently from the Netherlands to the USA, he asked if I missed home. I said, “I do not. Although I am Dutch and love my country, I consider myself more a world citizen and feel at home wherever I am.” This answer amazed him and made him ponder his feelings for his homeland and whether he ever could make such a statement.

During our conversation we also shared about our beliefs and journeys with the church. He asked about my continued motivation for belonging to and serving Community of Christ. My reply made him look anew at the church.

I explained that I strongly feel a unique and important characteristic of our church is that it’s international. It would be far easier for someone in the Netherlands to belong to a national church that has far more members and is accepted than to face the ridicule of belonging to a perceived “American church.”

But Community of Christ has become an international church. The most-spoken language on a given Sunday in our congregations is no longer English, but French. Our membership is growing in developing countries. Probably in the next decade or so, actual membership will be larger outside the USA than inside; active membership already is.

But more important than membership numbers is the church’s conviction that we are a global movement with a vision to establish the peaceable reign of God on Earth, thus transforming all of creation, all nations, all peoples.

We believe Christ is above all nations and does not favor one country or people above the other. As I sang as a child, “In Christ there is no East or West.” And as President Steve Veazey reminded us in the introductory statement to Doctrine and Covenants 164, “There is no longer Jew or Greek … for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

That is why my allegiance is primarily to Christ and not to a particular nation. Like Christ, I need to be spiritually free to challenge practices and beliefs in my home country, in my country of residence, or anywhere in the world that are contrary to the saving purposes of the gospel.

Being part of this church and living in a new country have made it clear to me that my beliefs and actions are tainted by the culture I grew up in. Being part of an international movement confronts me with sisters and brothers from different cultures who challenge what I believe. They challenge how I live out my gospel, which is not necessarily Christ’s gospel. We need the intercultural critique. Otherwise we become complacent and self-righteous.

I am proud of a church that professes and tries to be faithful to Christ’s mission, a universal mission for all and by all.

The richness of cultures, the poetry of language, and the breadth of human experience permit the gospel to be seen with new eyes and grasped with freshness of spirit.—Doctrine and Covenants 162:4a



One response

2 09 2011
Jodi Roberts

I like what you are saying….however, as the Church has splintered and expanded, members have leaked out of the edges. Too many along the way have become disillusioned. There are extraordinary numbers of ex-members that through this very process have been removed from the Church roles and float out there somewhere like dandelion wisps with no direction. Maybe this is to be an expected side effect of growth, I don’t know. Possibly it is too difficult to reach outward and inward at the same time. As one of those “wisps” painfully extracted years ago it is a constant journey to find my way back to somewhere that I belong…..and I do not want to have to learn to speak French to get there.

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