In celebration of the 50 years of the Office of Race Relations (ORR), we are featuring the stories of people in the CRC who have been actively demonstrating a passion for multicultural congregations and a commitment to antiracism. We call people who have been exemplifying these ideals, “Champions of Justice.” These Champions are the nominees for the Dante Venegas award that will be presented at Inspire 2022 in Chicago next August.
We are proud to introduce Dave and Susie Lindner as one of these nominees.
Here’s a little about their life work in Dave's own words:
Susie and I each grew up without a thought about the white privilege in which we were soaked. We each met Jesus and fell hard for his love and grace for all people. We met as missionaries overseas walking alongside international students, which gave us the opportunity to see more ways in which the shalom of Jesus can and does address the brokenness of the world. Working with diverse kids and families overseas and in urban centers in the U.S. awakened us to the systemic racial inequities that have festered and grown since the start of this country that we love.
Since the mid 1990’s, God has given me a passion and calling to do anti-racism work in ministries and denominations that are predominantly white. I was inspired by my amazing mentor in Kalamazoo, Art Hoekstra, and his work with Crossroads Ministries. Art lived out this truth: deep love for Jesus goes hand-in-hand with deep love for all of his children, and real love demands justice and equity. I and so many others have missed Art terribly since he died almost two decades ago.
Our work has helped us see that racism is a demonic "power and principality" that has inflicted generational trauma on all Americans, albeit in very different ways. One of the ways white Americans often deal with the trauma of being taught by our culture that we are better than others because of our skin color, is to imagine that racism is only a personal choice and to distance ourselves from it. It is all too common for us white folks to think, “Racism and racists are awful! I believe everyone is equal and I try to treat everyone equally, and if I slip up and say something offensive, I didn’t mean it and my heart is good; therefore, racism has nothing to do with me! (And I’ll be inordinately angry at any suggestion otherwise!)" So most of white "polite" society disavows racism, even while our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) brothers and sisters feel the crushing power of racism daily.
We have worked for 25 years with one foot in that "polite" society, helping them to see our other foot firmly planted in our beloved Gardenland/Northgate (Sacramento, CA) neighborhood, with its beauty, dignity, pain, and resourcefulness. And we work to awaken ourselves and others to the fact that silence is complicity as inequities ravage our communities. We seek to find and foster oases of shalom in all neighborhoods by encouraging deep spiritual formation journeys with Jesus, each other, and all of our neighbors.