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When the writers or the Board of the Reformed Journal gather, we usually spend a bit of time rehearsing the illustrious and uneven history of RJ. Groups, institutions, tribes often do this. It reminds us from whence we came, who we are, and what we value. “A wandering Aramean was my father…”

Jim Bratt typically begins the story. Of course, he wasn’t there when RJ was founded by some of the more “progressive” voices at Calvin College and Seminary in the post-war years. But he’s a historian. He knows. It’s a story that has some pretty impressive chapters.

Tom Boogaart often picks up the story in the early 1990s — the merger of RJ and Perspectives (a project of the Reformed Church in America). There were some tenuous times when the edge of the cliff was within sight. But then came renewal. A healthy board. Important buy-in from most of the RCA and CRC educational institutions. 

But a volunteer organization is always a fragile thing. Entropy inevitably takes a toll. There were highs and lows. Numerous conversations wondered if it was time to let the whole thing go.

Today I’d like to add another important but overlooked chapter to our history.

When Perspectives began to have an online presence, it was quietly, but not quite covertly, hosted on the website of the Reformed Church in America. We received invaluable “in-kind” help from RCA staff. This made some sense since Perspectives was initially an RCA project. Still, it also was fraught with tensions. We never saw ourselves as an official denominational mouthpiece. We didn’t seek approval for what we published. Many things we published annoyed the conservative wing of the RCA. We were irksome but not quite irritating enough to have people go after us. Until…

In 2011, we began a daily blog, originally called “The Twelve” because it had a rotation of twelve bloggers. 

A little less than a year into that endeavor, Jes Kast posted Learning how to be Christian…from Drag Queens. We were longer simply irksome. We were intolerable. 

I really don’t remember most of the details. But it was the end of any RCA support, whether quiet or covert or in-kind or whatever. At least, our eviction wasn’t instantaneous. 

But we had to find or build or buy a new website in short order. And, as usual, we didn’t have much money.

Somehow it was decided that Jeff Munroe and I should go, rather impromptu, to see David and Carol Myers of Holland, Michigan. David is an emeritus professor of psychology at Hope College and the author of many bestselling textbooks. Carol is a lifelong church leader, serving on all sorts of boards and commissions. And yes, they’re known to be gracious and generous people, although up to that time, they hadn’t really supported Perspectives

Carol and David welcomed us into their home. I felt like a pitiful little orphan, hat in hand, telling our tale of woe, begging for just a wee bit of help. This scene from Oliver Twist kept coming to mind. We had no written proposal. No tightly-honed budget. No elevator speech or powerpoint presentation. We told our story and what we needed to build a new site — soon. We weren’t asking for multi-millions. But it wasn’t insignificant either.

Without much discussion, the Myers said, “Yes! We will help you.” 

And the Reformed Journal is here today because of that response. 

Their generosity didn’t get us out of the woods completely. There were still some big challenges ahead. The decision to go solely online, ceasing paper publication. Changing the name back to the Reformed Journal. Some stumbles and erratic times. A few more of those “should we even continue?” conversations. But none of that would have happened without the Myers’ “yes.”

Now, here we are. And in pretty good shape, relatively speaking. Healthier than we’ve been in some time. Podcasts. Poetry. Even publishing books. And today, many of you are our financial supporters. Thanks!

And my point? It isn’t to suggest that you or your organization go stand on Myers’ front porch looking like a drowned rat, pathetic and needy. 

Primarily, it is to append this chapter to our tribal tale. To be sure this moment is not lost. And also to bring some honor and shine some light on David and Carol Myers, over a decade after their generosity saved us. Today, I publicly want to express our gratitude and admiration. 

Thank you. Thank you very much. 

Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell

Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell is a recently retired minister of the Reformed Church in America. He has been the convener of the Reformed Journal’s daily blog since its inception in 2011. He and his wife, Sophie, reside in Des Moines, Iowa.


  • Daniel Meeter says:

    This is important. Thank you for telling us all about this.

  • Bruce Buursma says:

    Grateful for David and Carol and their gift of generosity. I plan to visit their front porch, perhaps in a drowned rat costume, on the evening of October 31. Betting they pass out full-size candy bars in honor of Reformation Day.

  • Joyce and Wes Kiel says:

    In 2021, our friend Nancy Miller asked, “ Have you read the Reformed Journal?” At that time we said “No” but have read this blog every day since! We have referred it to many others. It never stops stimulating and uplifting us. Thank YOU to all who are behind the scenes and who share their heartfelt opinion on this blog!

  • Duane Kelderman says:

    Thanks for this wonderful story of generosity.

  • Doug says:

    This was a treat to read. A wonderful story.

  • Jan Hoffman says:

    An important story, thank you for telling it! Thank you, David and Carol! Reformed Journal makes a difference in my daily routine.

  • Willa Brown says:

    Thank you, David and Carol, for your generous gift of support. Those of us who are blessed by Reformed Journal each day are forever grateful.

  • Rodney Haveman says:

    Thank you David and Carol. First for the textbooks my wife and I used in HS and college and second for this additional generosity. I read the blog every day and usually some of the other pieces offered.
    Thank you

  • When Gary and I got married in 1973 one of the first subscriptions I purchased for the coffee table in our new home was the Reformed Journal. The rest of the story is related above as along with the publication, we petered out as well. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled on something that mentioned RJ appearing as a blog. I found you and my husband and I became avid reader/supporters. Thank you for filling in the history of the “silent years” between losing and finding you. You keep us intellectually afloat, in addition to providing a lot of laughter sometimes even a few tears.

  • Ron Wells says:

    Of course I join others in giving thanks for David and Carol for helping to save the RJ blog. Many thanks.

    But, since I am older than you, I remember back many years to the heyday of the Reformed Jounal in print form. I had the privilege of sitting, and having a beer, with some of the founders who were still living in the 1980s and 90s, such as Harry Boer, Henry Stob and the absolutely indispensible — and benefactor — William B. Eerdmans. Without him there would have been no Reformed Journal at all, and no heritage to carry on in our time, Thanks Bill!!

    And thanks to all who write for and support the RJ in our time.

  • John Tiemstra says:

    The Reformed Journal is a wonderful outlet for those of us who want to apply our faith to all areas of life, especially the ones that are not likely to show up in sermons or Sunday-school lessons. When I wanted to do the Calvin College thing, and write as a Christian about things like monetary policy and corporate management, the RJ gave me a place to publish. And it gave me a place to read about how faithful people reacted to all manner of ideas and events that don’t get much attention at the Sunday morning services. Thank you for all of that, and please, keep it up!

  • Lena says:

    Reading this article was both informative and interesting to learn a bit of RJ history. I was curious about what happened to Rev. Jes Kast. After googling her name, I found out that Jes is now ordained in the United Church of Christ with a number of podcasts available to view. While viewing the podcast “Queerly Rooting with Rev. Jes Kast”, Jes gleefully described how she likes to queer her spaces. The emphasis of Rev. Kast’s ministry is vastly different from what the CRC has always stood for, and this is what worries the conservatives if the HSR is not confessional.
    Also, I’m wondering if the RJ should change its name back to “Perspectives”. Many (most?) of the authors and commentators are no longer members of the RCA or CRC, but have gone on to more progressive churches, therefore no longer of the Reformed tribe.

  • Fred Mueller says:

    Dr. Myers was my student advisor at Hope (1968-’72) and was a godsend to me adapting and adjusting in that period of my life. He was caring, wise and helpful!

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