Synod 2005 reviewed the practice of appointing ethnic advisers and encouraged classes:
a. “to include at least one ethnic minority person in its synodical delegation beginning with Synod 2006.”
b. “to develop a strategy to intentionally incorporate ethnic minorities into the life and government of the local church and broader assemblies and submit their plan to the BOT by March 15, 2007 (Acts of Synod 2005, p. 748 & 755).
Synod also instructed “the Board of Trustees…to report in the annual Agenda for Synod, and to make recommendations if necessary, on the denomination’s progress in attaining its goal of at least one ethnic minority synodical delegate from each classis… (Acts of Synod 2005, p. 756).
The Board of Trustees has never reported on our progress or lack of progress in this area and has never offered recommendations for improvement. Our Race Relations office has never reminded our classes about this goal as classes gather to elect their synodical delegates.
If the recommendations of Synod 2011 regarding diversity are going to make a difference in our life together, our denominational offices must hold these recommendations before the churches and remind us that we have set a goal for which we are to strive.
But churches and classes must also be active in identifying, incorporating and training ethnic minorities who are new to our denomination. As far as I know, the Board of Trustees did not remind classes to submit their plans to “intentionally incorporate ethnic minorities into the life and government of the local church and broader assemblies…” But each classis had four delegates at Synod 2005. Each classis knew what synod had decided, and yet very little action resulted from those decisions. In fact, I recently talked to a stated clerk (secretary) of a classis who said he had never heard of the 2005 decisions.
This year, as is true every year, our Executive Director will send a letter to all church councils highlighting the decisions of synod. And this year, as is true every year, those decisions will be forgotten unless we are determined to practice what synod has preached.
To increase the participation of ethnic minorities at the synodical table and in leadership positions our leadership at every level – council, classis, synod, denominational offices – must demonstrate that this is an important value to be pursued, not merely a synodical decision to insert into our official record.