A Note from Reggie Smith, Director of the CRCNA Office of Diversity:
I recently took my first trip since the CRCNA had restricted travel in March 2020 due to the pandemic. It was absolutely amazing to get in my car and drive to Gary, Indiana, for the SEAPI board meeting, held near the majestic sand dunes of the Hoosier state. I couldn’t wait to hang out with Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Chin leaders from around the country.
The SEAPI meeting addressed several things, including connecting with denominational officials, developing plans to reach younger leaders in each group, and strategizing ways to start churches in their home countries. The group of 20 leaders made plans for a 2022 gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it.
I heard laughter, excitement, and love for the CRC, including how this perspective makes a difference in their specific locales. I brought a word from John 2 on the life transition of John the Baptist’s disciples, whom he encouraged to follow Master Jesus as God’s answer for salvation. I facilitated an hour-long conversation about Reformed theology, leadership development, and their desire to grow their churches. Bless God!
I also hopped a plane to North Carolina to visit two emerging ministries among African Americans. Along with Resonate Global Missions’ Eastern US regional leader, Marco Avila, and Pastor Wayne Coleman from Madison Avenue CRC in Paterson, NJ, we stepped in the oldest Catholic church in Johnson County, NC. The church has been transformed into Higher Calling Ministries, led by Dante and Shonda Covington in Smithfield.
Dante and Shonda came to Smithfield some years ago with knowledge that few African Americans live in the county (due to the county’s reputation that Ku Klux Klan chapter practiced openly). Thanks be to God, Dante will undergo his classical examination though Classis Hackensack to become a commissioned pastor soon.
Soon after Smithfield, we moved onto the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The college town was draped in Tar Heel blue and teeming with young people. Joel Swann began gathering African American students for a Bible study on campus. Joel’s persistence and Reformed centered belief that this group was underserved by other Christian organizations.
Imagine the picture—over twenty-five African American students discussing the providence of God with Joel by using the Heidelberg Catechism on a Wednesday night. With pizza as an incentive, one student shared his own Christian rap song and a capella group offered up spirituals that gladdened my heart.
SEAPI, Black and Reformed, First Nations, Korean, Chinese, and Latino church leaders are doing a new thing among us! These ministries need the help of other Christian Reformed members to keep their ministries flourishing as the Lord moves to assist. This movement of the Spirit is changing the face of the CRC in innovative ways. Please join in!