My interest in racial reconciliation began years before I came to the CRC while I was in seminary at Columbia International University in South Carolina. In 1999 I was blessed to be extended a call to co-pastor Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which had a vision to become a multicultural church. I researched the CRC’s doctrines, history and mission focus and it all seemed to align with God’s leading in my life. So I accepted the call. I was eager to see lives transformed (including my own) and bridges built across racial divides. During my time there we experienced God’s blessings in many ways in uniting our congregation and community.
I recently attended a two-day DORR (Dance of Racial Reconciliation) workshop facilitated by the Office of Race Relations. DORR is a racial reconciliation curriculum initiative to help us recognize that racism is a sin, what God says about it in the scriptures, and how we should respond to it in a fallen and broken world.
In the DORR training, I received renewed strength and vision for God’s work. It impressed on me to recommit to taking personal responsibility for affecting change in attitudes, behaviors and structures that don’t support unity in the body of Christ. We considered Proverbs 3:27,
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”
(New Living Translation)
It’s easy to be comfortable in our own situations if we ignore or deny the injustice that still exists.
Here are some highlights from my experience at DORR:
- Hearing from missionaries from CRWM enriched my understanding about their experiences of living in other parts of the world.
- Sharing personal stories relating to racial injustice and how much progress has been made was insightful.
- Learning the skills for becoming a reconciler is helpful for being intentional in the ministry of reconciliation.
- Receiving the Call to Action is a reminder that we all have a personal and corporate responsibility to seek God’s will in how we should affect change in our homes, communities, workplaces, churches and world in sharing the good news.
The CRC’s vision is, “…a diverse family of healthy congregations, assemblies, and ministries expressing the good news of God’s kingdom that transforms lives and communities worldwide.” This leads us toward becoming that great heavenly vision we see in Revelation 7:9:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (New International Version)
As we prayerfully and continuously learn how to accept, appreciate, celebrate and care for one another as children of God, we will be salt and light in a world that desperately needs our witness! I am ready to dance on whatever platform God provides! May God be glorified!
The conversations we need to have about racial attitudes and inter-racial cooperation in the Body are as important now as they ever were. But our willingness to have them is still, well, spotty at best. And maybe it's even harder to have those conversations now because we want so badly to believe that we don't really need them anymore. But we do. May the Spirit give us the words and the hearts to have the loving and honest conversations we need.
Amen to that too!!
Karl, I agree. We truly need the Holy Spirit to guide this work. I will be listening and praying with you and others. Thank you. Blessings
For those of you who were wondering, I was a Co-Pastor at Immanuel for one year and served the next twelve years as Sole Pastor until July 2012.
I continue to pray and trust that God will guide our CRC Churches and Synods to find a way, lit by the Lamp of Christ to have the needed conversations about race and reconcilliation in an open, frank and honest environment. Guided by an olde Dr Watts songs :" I Will Trust in the Lord, Till I Die" and "I Know the Lord Will Make a Way, Somehow", The CRCNA can and will move forward God helping us.
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