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 Michelle Loyd-Paige as one of these nominees.
Here’s a little more about Michelle and her work:
Michelle Loyd-Paige, PhD serves as the Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion (EAPDI) and holds an appointment of Professor of Sociology at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Loyd-Paige is a Calvin alum and earned her PhD from Purdue University. Prior to becoming the EAPDI, Loyd-Paige served as a teaching faculty member, chair of the department of Sociology and Social Work, and the Dean for Multicultural Affairs.
In 2015, Loyd-Paige was the recipient of the Floyd Skinner Justice Award. In 2017, Michelle was recognized as Calvin’s Woman of Achievement for the YWCA Grand Rapids Tribute Awards. Michelle is often sought as a consultant and speaker on matters of diversity and inclusion. Michelle joined the Antioch Podcast as a regular contributor in 2019. She is a member of Maple Avenue Ministries in Holland, Michigan. She lives in Muskegon Heights, Michigan with her husband of thirty-seven years.
Michelle shares her thoughts on her antiracism work:
“Recently, someone asked how long I had been involved in diversity work. My tongue-in-cheek response,“Well, I have been Black all my life, so I guess just over sixty years.” That wasn’t the answer they were looking for, but it is my truth. I was born two years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott. My childhood, adolescence, and adult life is a narrative of living with at least two targets on my back: Black and female. The stories I could tell of micro aggressions, blatant discrimination, struggles with racial identity and self-esteem, and unpacking systemic racism are many. I have the scars that show that I have not been sitting on the sidelines.
I won’t lie, there have been moments and seasons that I felt like the work was too hard and too emotionally wounding. And then my favorite passage would come to mind, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” (Lam. 3:19-24)
In my waiting on the Lord, I have found the courage and confidence to fight for justice within every sphere of my influence. I have developed resources for my university and other organizations; I have been asked to be a consultant by other organizations; I have mentored other diversity professionals; I share my insights on a podcast, and there is still more work to be done.
The work I do is not just a job, it is a calling, one that is reflected in my personal vision statement. “My aspiration in life is to be a reflection of Christ, walk faithfully with God, and be led by the Holy Spirit. When my days are done, I want to hear my God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
This requires fully embracing and enacting God's call on my life to: Preach the good news of the Gospel and to Speak a word in due season to those who are weary; Love my husband, children (including my children-in-love) and grandchildren unconditionally and to Support my family and friends in meaningful and tangible ways; Advocate for justice and equity in response to racism and sexism; Promote a plant-based diet as part of healthy living, especially among African-Americans; Build Bridges across the racial divide, both personally and structurally; Build Capacity in faith-based organizations by giving my time, talent, and treasure.
All of this requires that I take up my cross daily and become a witness, agent, and evidence of God's love, grace, and reconciliation of all things. And I will do all of this while building a reputation of integrity, authenticity, and joy in my spiritual, personal, and vocational life.”