April 15, 2021
Many individuals and churches have felt disconnected because of the coronavirus pandemic—but Loop Church in Chicago has been using online worship as an opportunity to make new connections and worship with people throughout the world.
Recently, members of Loop Church joined together with members of Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria Jos (CRC-N Jos) for a worship service in which they reflected on the Belhar Confession and lamented the injustices people are facing throughout the world.
“It was an opportunity to come together in a really meaningful and authentic way and stand in solidarity,” said Derek Elmi-Buurmsa, pastor of Loop Church.
Loop Church connected to CRC-N Jos through Mike and Victoria Van Der Dyke, Resonate Global Mission missionaries. Mike and Victoria are members of CRC-N Jos and work with the Christian Reformed Church in Nigeria to strengthen churches throughout the country. Loop Church partners with the Van Der Dykes’ ministry, supporting them with finances, prayer, and care.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many churches have found creative ways to connect with missionaries across borders. Resonate missionaries have been able to join supporting congregations virtually for ministry updates, messages, Bible studies, and more. But Loop Church wanted to try something a little different.
“Instead of just having one part of the service where they could offer an update, why not try to encourage some more participation throughout the whole liturgy of the service,” said Derek.
In November 2020, the pastor and members of CRC-N Jos’s praise team joined Mike, Victoria, and Loop Church for an online worship service in which they sang, shared updates from ministry in Nigeria, recited part of the Belhar Confession, and reflected on the Belhar’s call for unity in God’s church. It was just a few months after the first protests over racism and police brutality in the United States, and right during protests over police brutality and an increase in clashes between tribes in Nigeria.
“We don’t deal with racism in the way that you deal with it in North America, but we do have tribalism,” lamented Mike during the worship service.
The worship service was an opportunity for both churches to learn about injustices people are experiencing in each context and explore how the church can respond.
“These are ways we can stand in solidarity with one another, even though we’re marching in different places and advocating in different contexts, we are still called by the same God to do justice,” said Derek.
Mike said that CRC-N Jos members were honored to participate in a joint worship service with Loop Church.
“It gave our CRC-N members in Jos a chance to be part of a diverse worship service ... it also was encouraging to them to know that brothers and sisters in North America are praying for and supporting them in their ministry,” said Mike.
Loop Church, CRC-N Jos, and the Van Der Dykes are discussing ways they can continue building a partnership together, whether that is through times of praying together online, joining together in a Bible study, or something else.
“Partnership is a really important aspect of how we can be part of the ways in which the church is active all over—not just here in Chicago, but throughout the globe,” said Derek. “The goal of the partnership is to go beyond learning, but to really be in community with one another and to feel a sense of shared solidarity in the work of ministry as it happens here in Chicago and as it happens there in Jos.”
Partnering with missionaries throughout the world is one important way your church can build unity in the global church. Learn more at www.resonateglobalmission.org/missionary-support