Statement About The Deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor

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This statement is also available in Spanish and Korean (see attachments at the bottom of the post). 

Racism is sin.

We must all stand up and speak, work, and preach against the sin of racism. This is not political action; it is a biblical position. Biblical and theological foundations for this faith-based vision can be found in “God’s Diverse and Unified Family” (adopted by Synod 1996, also available in Spanish and Korean).  

As denominational leaders in the Christian Reformed Church in North America, we grieve with the families of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. We also recognize that they were killed because they were seen through a lens of racism. While these incidents create moments of crisis in the lives of non-black people, they actually expose centuries-long patterns of racism and prejudice in the United States that are lived every day by people of color.  

These high profile cases are not anomalies. They are not simply the result of some rogue police officers. Instead, they underline the systemic nature of racism and its pervasiveness in our culture. George Floyd is one among way too many African American men disrespected as image bearers of God in the US. And in Canada, there are similar systemic realities that result in precious children of the Creator taken too soon.

The CRC’s Office of Race Relations has a 50-year history of working with congregations and collaborating in the public square on issues of racialized injustice. Most recently leaders from congregations and classes in the United States and Canada have asked the Office of Race Relations about actions to take in response to recent killings.

We thank God for this interest, but we also understand that the news cycle will soon move on. It is imperative that, as a church and as individual Christians, we remain focused on the socialized beliefs and assumptions that perpetuate such racist acts, even when the media has moved on to the next news story. Racism is a stronghold in our countries that will not go away overnight. The remedy is a commitment to sanctification. We invite you to walk with us in this sanctification process.

Each of us—pastors, leaders, church members, and classes—must ask ourselves questions like these: 

  • What is God saying to change us, heal us, renew us? 

  • What common narratives will this moment change? 

  • How much priority will we give to anti-racist spiritual formation? 

  • What will it mean to have a Reformed world and life view in responding to racialized inequality? 

  • Will we allow ourselves to be crucified with Christ, so that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us? 

These recent killings have exposed racism to our collective attention. Some of us have participated in peaceful protests, but racism has not gone away. Turning from it toward equity and love will require remembering who we are in Christ, memorializing the murdered cloud of witnesses, taking the historical blood-stained sins to the cross, and raising our eyes to the hope of Jesus leading us to a beloved community.

This may be easily said, but it will require a ministry commitment to humility, kenosis, education, conversation and action for it to be realized. Most of all, it will require sacrifice, especially for white members of our community. Pursuing a change like this will be costly. Yet, we believe that such sacrifice is not only necessary, it also reflects the type of sacrificial love Jesus showed most gloriously on the cross. 

So, let us allow ourselves to be enabled by the Spirit to take action. Let us sacrifice and die to ourselves, for the sake of love of brothers and sisters, who must live with racism directed against them every day. Below are some suggested actions that you—particularly our white sisters and brothers—can take individually, communally, and systemically. Please join us in moving beyond “thoughts and prayers” to truly becoming a church of reconciliation and justice. 

Your partners in ministry,

Carol Bremer-Bennett, World Renew - US 

Kevin DeRaaf, Resonate Global Mission - Canada

Mike Hogeterp, Centre for Public Dialogue

Sam Huizenga, Raise Up Global Ministries

Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo, World Renew - Canada

Zachary King, Resonate Global Mission - U.S. 

David Koll, Candidacy

Michael LeRoy, Calvin University

Jul Medenblik, Calvin Theological Seminary 

Bonnie Nicholas, Safe Church Ministry

Denise L. Posie, Leadership Diversity

Sarah Roelofs, Chaplaincy and Care Ministry

Darren Roorda, Canadian Ministries Director

Chris Schoon, Faith Formation Ministries

Kurt Selles, Back to God Ministries International 

Mark Stephenson, Race Relations / Social Justice / Disability Concerns

Lis Van Harten, Congregational Services

Cecil vanNiejenhuis, Pastor Church Resources

Colin P. Watson Sr., Executive Director, CRCNA

Suggested ways for church leaders and congregations to spiritually discern and take actions to be anti-racist:

(Many of the links below are to resources created by CRCNA ministries. Note that for those that were produced outside the denomination, we do not necessarily endorse every link or every statement on their websites).

To learn more about how to advocate on social and racial justice issues, consider hosting the CPD/OSJ Faith In Action workshop at your church.

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