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There are many divisive issues that we would love to forget as 2020 fades into history. But there is one issue that made headlines this past year that should not be silenced in our churches and our communities: the pursuit of racial justice.

Without racial justice, we cannot have shalom, and unless we seek shalom, we will not be joining in God’s mission of proclaiming the good news in our neighborhoods and around the world.

As someone who grew up in a homogenous neighborhood, school, and church, I am still on a learning journey about the impact of race on my neighbors and community. I am learning from you, as I have a front-row seat to see how churches and classes invest in this collective conversation. Which of these ideas inspires you to keep listening and learning so that together we can join in God’s mission?

  1. Classis Grand Rapids North created a diversity committee and led book discussions on White Fragility this past summer. The Office of Race Relations facilitated those conversations for classis GR North, and is eager to assist other congregations and classes in their work of dismantling racism. 
  2. With support from the Resonate Global Mission Great Lakes Team, Classis Grand Rapids East worked with Calvin University's sociology department to survey and interview leaders of color in classis about racial diversity and inclusion within classis. You can read their report here.
  3. A small group of women from River Terrace CRC meets together to share what they are reading, watching, and doing in the area of racial justice. They have spent time lamenting the injustices experienced by people of color in the United States and are praying for God to raise up others in their church to join in.
  4. Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom-Grier, the pastor at Maple Avenue in Holland, Michigan, started the 1Cor13 project as a collaborative resource to center the health, healing, and wholeness of Black people in particular, and to resource non-Black allies. Her website includes a helpful survey for allies to assess their own place in this healing process.
  5. Akron CRC created a small group that's focused on anti-racism. They are using Debby Irving’s 21 Day Challenge.

In closing, I’ll share this paragraph from the Classis Grand Rapids North Diversity Committee’s mandate that ties racial justice to the mission, in hopes that it inspires you to take steps towards racial justice in your own classis and congregation:

"God’s mission is mainly propagated by his church—and therefore, the body of Christ must be the embodiment of his shalom and unity. We cannot proceed in proclaiming the message of salvation to the world when forms of 'dividing walls of hostility' still have footprints in our congregations. We must have a deliberate engagement and reflection on what it means to co-exist as the diverse body of Christ." 

Written by Amy Schenkel, Resonate Global Mission's regional mission leader for the Great Lakes region. Resonate is here to help you and your church work toward racial justice and join in God's mission in your communities and throughout the world. Want support, or want to share how you and your church have been working toward shalom? Connect with Amy Schenkel by email at [email protected].

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