Resource, Book or eBook

Looking for a book to study in your small group or book club? Buying books for your church library or for yourself? Check out Waking Up White. It’s readable. It’s challenging. And it's important.

February 9, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Martin Luther King, Jr. day is not a “Black” holiday. It is a day to affirm the dignity of all people. It is a day to remember the example of King – a drum major for justice.

January 9, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training

Leadership and Race is a workshop that deliberately pursues inclusion through six tasks. This workshop is geared for those in leadership positions!

January 1, 2017 1 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

DORR is an antiracism and racial reconciliation workshop that involves activities to recognize, expose, and dismantle racism in all its forms. 

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

Widening the Circle is an antiracism workshop used in Canada and specific to Canada. 

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

DORR II is designed to deepen what was started with DORR and to give hope to those trying to get at the root causes of racism, to address systemic issues, and to provide a deeper knowledge of racial reconciliation.

December 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

The six-session DVD Facing Racism includes an embedded study guide that equips you or your group to work for racial reconciliation.

November 15, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

Author Pedro Aviles will help you see and understand what the Hispanic tsunami means for the church—both in challenges and opportunities.

November 9, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training

DORR—Small Groups takes the regular DORR workshop and reworks it for small groups. The audience is adults, and the curriculum has been developed for use in an adult education setting the local church.

October 24, 2016 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

A couple of weeks ago, leaders of Christian Reformed Church ministries issued a Statement on Racism to all pastors in the denomination. Let's have a conversation about the Statement, and the topic it addresses.

October 3, 2016 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

With the recent note on race relations put out by CRC Staff we need this article to show up in this section so we can respond or comment. 

September 28, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

World Communion Sunday is October 2! Attached to this post you'll find prayers, litanies, and much more to use or adapt for your worship setting.

September 25, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Every year churches across the CRC celebrate All Nations Heritage Sunday using worship resources from Race Relations. Last year almost 20,000 bulletin inserts and covers were ordered! Join us in the celebration. 

September 19, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Racism is not part of God’s grand design. Human beings are the architects of racism. However, through Jesus Christ, God is reconciling us to Himself, and to each other, rebuilding what we destroyed.

August 19, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

I want us to wrestle with conversations that may be difficult. I want us to enter together into the beautiful mess of reconciliation. I want us to have a candid conversation, as family, about race.

August 5, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave and caused his resurrection is at work in the surrendered hearts of the believers who live for racial healing and justice in our world today. 

February 15, 2016 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

In his article "Through African Eyes"  http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/10/through-african-eyes

John Azumah, professor of World Christianity and Islam at Columbia Theological Seminary.relates how North American churches can embody cultural imperialism with a very paternalistic...

December 20, 2015 0 2 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

This booklet covers the background of racial and ethnic diversity in the CRC and was developed by a 1992 synodical committee of the Christian Reformed Church.

December 1, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

In this interactive webinar, four panelists give their Top 5 Lists, from four different perspectives, for becoming more hospitable and loving in a diverse world.

November 5, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

November is Native American Heritage Month. Interested in celebrating it at your church? We've put together free worship materials for you to use!

October 14, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, many parents are wondering, "How can I talk with my kids about this? How much can they handle? How soon?"

June 24, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Lamenting is painful and there's nothing "dignified" or "pretty" about it. The Church needs to face the reality of racism in America and to join others in crying out to our Lord for deliverance.

June 10, 2015 0 3 comments
Blog

Prejudice has a long shelf life. Chances are that you (and I) keep prejudice neatly tucked away under the cover of noble virtues, traditions or plain thoughtlessness.

February 2, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This article was printed on the front page (Friday, December 27, 2014) in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper. It is a great testimony of racial reconciliation and on what God is doing through the Body of Christ at Community CRC.

http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/...

December 30, 2014 0 0 comments
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It has been impossible not to hear of several tragic incidents of death of black men during confrontations with police. I have been struck and saddened by the deaths of people I did not know...

December 15, 2014 0 0 comments

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Denise and others -- what I appreciate about this post is that it helps us to lament our own racialized behavior, rather than the all too simple act of lamenting the sins of others in a very different context.

Hope to read the book soon.  We have been missionaries in Honduras, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and the USA.  These cultures are all quite different.  A church meeting is a cultural gathering.  We need to learn how better to live together in our congregations and neighborhoods.  We presently help minister in a Pentecostal congregation that meets in an RCA church building, two doors from where my wife grew up.  Wayne DeYoung

A very interesting discussion. As we continue to use language of inclusion and reconciliation, too often that discourse revolves around people of color NOT having resources, knowledge or means to witness the Gospel globally. The 'root' of race-differences is NOT necessarily economic. Rather the secular conversations about 'reconciliation' get tangled in our Christian language use and unfortunately quoting of Scripture is used to argue for or against 'in-Christ' brother and sisterhood. Our imperative should be to LIVE the Gospel at all times and in all we seek to witness for the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

There are a couple of thoughts I have after reading your post and the original that you referenced.

First, I don't agree with equating nonwhites with underprivileged. So that leaves us with two questions to answer as to why more ethnic minorities are not engaging with the denomination. #1, in our multiethnic congregations, is everyone given equal opportunity to join the short term missions teams? I would argue that yes, they are, because most of the churches I work with do fundraising as a congregation to support whoever wants to go, as long as they work on the fundraising too (make the pies, wash the cars, work at the dinners, etc.) #2, in our ethnic churches, are they uninterested in missions or just uninterested in going through our denomination? Is money really a factor? I tend to think not, because I have seen some incredible donations come through our ethnic churches after a disaster. So what is the real reason?

Setting aside the STM issue, let's talk about funding missions. This is actually something that affected World Renew's decision to move towards a country support approach rather than a missionary-centered approach. Many of our overseas staff are not from North America, or if they are, are not Christian Reformed. So they don't have their own church, Grandma and Grandpa's church, and their aunt and uncle's churches to get support. Nor do they have the social connections mentioned in the article you referenced. Yet, their stories are just as powerful, if not more so. One of our staff actually had someone come up to her after church and say, "this is the first time in my life I have heard an African woman talk about Africa." Of course, as the article mentioned, it is this pooling of resources that is possible in nonprofit organizations and denominations, not so much parachurch organizations. I suspect, though, that if the parachurch organizations were able to shift their fundraising strategies they could have a similar approach. 

Shannon,

I think that short-term mission (STM) that are planned and executed by the church should be seen as a "personal development" opportunity that is provided to people. If so, we could maybe should have a church/denominational fund that are used to fund ALL short-term mission trips and ALL people would have to apply to receive the funding (think of it as a leadership development program or what have you). This is what you're getting at with the "savings group" idea I believe. But the reason I think everyone should apply for the same pool of money, rather than having some people be able to "buy" their way in, is that it creates a leveled entry platform for STMs and does not place an unfair burden on the ecnomoically disadvantages to have to fill out the "scholarship form." Now given the segregated nature of our churches, I think the question of who decides which people get to go should be a second important consideration, but that can be step #2. 

All this to say I think that the model of being able to buy your way into STMs is going to perpetuate a lack of representation for ethnic minorities. We need to come up with a redistribution model that people can buy into. 

Kyle 

 

 

Thanks for the link.  It is encouraging that requests for the leaders to speak out against this type of crime have indeed been heeded:

"On Saturday morning, the National Action Network’s Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the issue of this so called  ‘knockout game’ head on. In an address aired live on WLIB radio and streamed over the internet, the Reverend denounced ‘knockout’ as disturbing and despicable.

He said, “This type of behavior is deplorable and must be condemned by all of us.” The Reverend went on to say, “If someone talked about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent, if it is bigotry, violence or assault, we must denounce it.”

The Reverend called upon the black church, black newspapers and publications, community oriented radio broadcasts to start a campaign against ‘knockout.’  Sharpton is the host of “Politics Nation” on MSNBC. In a plea to black families he said, “Parents need to talk to their kids.”

Knowing the power of peer support and celebrity influence, Sharpton called upon the entertainment community to get involved by denouncing this behavior."

People shouldn't be afraid to walk about in their neighbourhoods.  Even in broad daylight people have been assaulted. 

Regarding parents talking to their children, the problem is that many are being brought up by unmarried mothers.  Especially boys need a father to teach them how to be a man, instead of a bully.

I believe the question as formulated is highly provocative, insensitive, and (IMHO) inappropriate for just about any discussion forum. . . . especially one focussed specifically on racial reconciliation and anti-racism.  I hope--perhaps somewhat naively--that all who post questions or comments would give careful consideration and use the acronym "THiNK" before posting anything. Ask yourself, is it

1.) True

2.) Helpful 

3.) Necessary 

4.) Kind

Grace & Peace,

Jack

P.S. the grio just posted what I think is a more balanced report about the hysteria over the alleged incidents of "knockout" that have occurred.  You can read it by clcking on this link

I guess that's what it might take to stop this so-called 'game', if enough victims fight/shoot back.  Typically bullies are cowards only picking on those they believe can't fight back.  Apart from conceal carry I doubt very much that someone obviously 'packing heat' as they say, would be picked on.

I don't know what media you're referring to, but I have seen links to numerous articles (TV shows, newspaper clips) on facebook. The links my friends tend to post are about the attackers getting shot because the intended victim was concealed carrying. So the media I'm coming across IS outraged. 

Joy,

I'm afraid your comments may not be very helpful. Your language here seems to be more inflamatory than conciliatory. There is certainly no excuse for mobs of racially motivated people "knocking out" people of other races. However, neither is there any excuse for language which over generalizes, and makes even more racially polarizing remarks to boot.

If you truly want to address the issue and have something done about it, then maybe we should be asking questions like:

Why is this happening at all? If we were a truly non-racist society, wouldn't this kind of behaviour be utterly ludicrous? How can we "love our enemies" here, as Jesus asked us to do? How can we support the victims (those attacked) by these mobs? How can we seek to bring the true, reconciling justice of Christ to all parties concerned in such happenings?

Those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking. Not inflammatory questions regarding "where the media outrage is" or "imagin[ing] what it would be like if whites attacked blacks like this" None of those questions is helpful, I'm afraid, except insofar as they reflect your feelings of upset: feelings which are natural and understandable. It IS upsetting when ANY people attack ANY other people--especially when it's racially motivated. But let's seek to make it better, not worse.

It is a gross generalization to assume all people of 'other' ethnic or cultural backgrounds are poor and/or do not have or give resources to their churches. One person's opinion does not shake my foundation of faith in God or the CRCNA. And they have a right to their opinion(s). I find my Joy and Peace in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christs' assurance of Grace.

Thank you for your encouragement. For once I expressed my real feelings and it helped me personally to 'post it.' As children of God we all have good intentions and our collective challenges are great. I am a firmm believer that with Christ filled hearts and minds God will lead us to unity. There has been too much talk and writing and not enough commitment to living Christ-like lives together. The Peace of Christ be with you.

Fronse,

I empathize with your sorrow that we have not done better.  But I also know that many African Americans and other minorities have expressed your same exhaustion, yet they keep on.  I pray that you will join me in keeping on even in the face of discouragement.

Peace,

Randy Gabrielse

Well at 66yrs olde I read, study and pray a lot. Giving 'examples' to me serves no purpose other than reading reactions and counter reactions to what I write. I felt motivated to post which I avoid most of the time because I'm oriented to living the Gospel rather than writing about it. It is interesting to me when I read, listen and seek God's Grace in conversations on or offline. The feeling of remorse I write about is because regardless of the words diversity or multiculturalism or equal rights, the reactions of good well meaning people is too often based on unsaid beliefs. Just say I'm olde and tired.

In response to Frons, I am curious as to whether you could give an example of where the love of God is not present in a situation that you have experienced?   Or perhaps give an example of where people are not willing to change in a situation where you thought they should have changed?  

John 

Having read previous discussions about diversity, witnessing a change in the mood of people toward inclusion from 'let's try to do better' to 'what diversity looks like' I have been hopeful then cautious now wondering what may or may not occur in our denomination. In 2012 I am not feeling the Love of Christ in discussions and not seeing a willingness to change or 'give it a try.' The assumptions that diverse people somehow are different in mind, body and spirit in our relationship to the people of God I find to be 'odd.' I continue to hope, pray and quietly believe that our 'diversity' will occur when we all accept each other as children of God.

While different management styles and different ways of looking at things is a statement that "sounds" good, it is so open-ended that it does not mean very much.  Would that mean that having a pope as manager would be okay?  Would that mean that every local church formulating its own confessions and hymnbook would be okay?   Would it be okay if elders were appointed for life?  Would it be okay if preachers were not approved by seminary or by classis?  How far does it go?  Of course there are many personality styles and also many peculiar council working arrangements in different churches, including approaches to preaching, singing, discipline, weekly activities, but don't they all need to fit within the direction and control of scripture?   Diversity is great, yes, in many things.   But in some basic and essential things diversity is not so great.   Therefore it cannot be a general philosophy.   Each case needs to be considered in its own context and on its own merits.   Yes? 

MY THOUGHTS BELOW, WHILE INFORMED IN PART BY MY ANTI-RACISM WORK AND TRAINING, ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF MY EMPLOYER. 

I agree that "visible" minority is an awkward phrase. I think part of the issue is that Canada and the US use different terminology, but I know that's not all of it. 

My personal preference is to identify people from "under-represented groups" or those "outside of the majority culture". This takes into account diversity of life experiences, rather than physical appearance. In my opinion, the reason we should value increasing our diversity is that we want the leadership of this denomination to be attainable by all in our denomination, not just those who are on the "inside". This diversity incorporates physical appearance to some extent, but as your examples show, that is not the entire story.   In terms of "neither Jew nor Greek", I would refer you to (CRC Campus Minister) Shiao Chong's reflection on New Testament "Affirmative Action". Pastor Chong says of the Church in the book of Acts:   "Instead of maintaining the status quo, they chose to integrate the subgroup into the structure of the church. They chose to create a new leadership structure and empower the immigrant subgroup’s ability to exercise their gifts and leadership."  (Shiao Chong, A Biblical Case for Affirmative Action, thinkchristian.net. Retrieved 11/14/2012)  In my opinion, the real issue is that those of us in the majority culture need to be willing to release control and share power, which means going outside of our comfort zone to allow for different styles of management and different ways of looking at things. This is the diversity that I long to see in the CRC. 

The irony and stupidity of such a 25% "visible" minority requirement becomes obvious, when you are working with minorities who are not obviously visible.   I work with and have meetings with a variety of people who display a variety of appearance.   Some are aboriginal or part aboriginal or metis who do not look significantly different than some old german or ukranian farmers, while others are more obvious.   One individual seemed to be certainly aboriginal, but I discovered he was only about 1/8th aboriginal, 7/8 european ancestry.   The child of a Japanese preacher and a Norwegian pianist;  will this child satisfy the visible minority requirement based solely on appearance, or will he only half satisfy the 25% requirement?   To really mess with the english language, I assume that we are not looking solely for those who are 1/4 blood visible minorities?  

No matter how you slice it, this particular target makes ridicule of the notion that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew.    If the best preachers, and the most spiritual and most biblical are all from India or Nigeria or Korea, then let the staff be 100% visible minority.   But don't pick them for their color or lack of it. 

Michelle Obama, for example. A story on TV reports that she had white ancestors going back 200 years yet she is "black." If her children marry white people Mrs. Obama's grandchildren will be "black." If the grandchildren marry white people the great-grandchildren will be "black," although "mixed race" is becoming popular among brown/tan skinned people. But never "white." 

I saw a 10 by 10 (?) photo montage representing shades of human skin color with darkest black in the upper left corner and white in the lower right corner. Only one picture out of the 100 or more looked white. The color variation across the ranks and files  appeared accurate to my eyes.

Another few generations and "white" will be a  small minority in the US, probably a good thing.

 

Bill,

I am not sure what you mean by "the use of "race"".  Do you mean that to speak of racial difference e is "an admission that "white" is a regressive characteristic, or do you mean something else?

I find that in much discourse that recognizes differences in appearance (whether this is race or whether race is real or not does not matter to me in this discussion) many people who appear white are unconscious of their whiteness (what most people would think of as "race." Rather, because we are privilged, we do not have to regularly be conscious of our race, such that it is virtually transparent." 

I do not think of "white as a regressive characteristic."  I do think, however, that the beliefs, heritages and experiences of other cultures are becoming more important to living an educated and Christian life in today's USA.  These are things that white people have usually been able to ignore, but increasingly need to understand.  In this regard, I think that our distinctively Dutch Reformed heritage/culture/subculture makes many of us more self-conscious of our particular subculture within "white culture".

Peace,

Randy Gabrielse

Might. I think, at least in the USA, the use of "race" is a tacit (not understood?) admission that "white is a regressive characteristic.

Bill Wald, you're a breath of fresh air.  I'm 57, have practiced law for 32 years, and convinced people don't really know what they're are talking about (literally) when they use the word "race."  Eg., is "black" a single race?  What about "hispanic"?  How about Mexican, and is that a different "race" from Spanish, or Honduran?  How about "the German race"?  Dutch?  Dutch/American?  African American?  How about American (must we say "native American" for that to count)?  People from Sheboygan, WI (they talk funny), New York (talk about distinctive)?  What race is the "Ugly American" anyway?

Other questions: What race is someone who is 7/8th Korean and 1/8th Dutch?  What is Tiger Woods anyway?  Why do you need to be only a slight fraction of "native American" (whatever that exactly means -- I was born here, am I not "native American") to be qualified as "native American" (and thereby often be eligible for certain federal benefits)?  And why does "white" cover so many different people who are so many different cultures?  What do I not recognize so many "black people" as "black people."

Now, I do understand the term "culture," and think using that is meaningful, even though "culture" is composed of complex intermix of characteristics.  Thus, you can be "Iowan" in culture (that definitely means a number of things to me), or Japanese in culture (I have one of those in my house).  Or, you can be Japanese (in terms of looking like one) but be Iowan in culture.

Like Bill Wald, I often, very often, don't recognize someone's race.  I realize I didn't recognize it only because in a later interaction with or about that person, he/she or someone else tells me they are a certain "race."   And then I don't really know what to do with that information because it's so, well, meaningless.

My bottom line analysis is this: I think "race" is a cheap word (that is, not resulting from a lot of thought) that we continue to use predominantly because using the word adds to the users ability to sharply accuse or just get attention.  Our ears perk when we hear the word because it maybe means someone is being mean, or about to start a fight, or making a strong accusation, or running for political office and behind in the polls.

This may sound a bit silly to some, but I think we should precisely define what we mean by the word "race" before we name committees after the word and have discussions about it.  Don't misunderstand, I don't mind having those discussions, but I do prefer to take one step at a time, in logical order, when so discussing.  Maybe the word has no real meaning anymore, and least for Christians.

I think Angeltp might agree???

I'm sorry Billwald , I believe our God is way ahead of us. His Church will survive according to his will. Our job is to look where he wants to take us. Nick, be assured that this will happen. Just look at history of the first church which we are part of and hoe different it was. God will prevail.

P.S. I'm not a pastor or officeholder of any kind except husband and father.

Mostly because we are the new kid on the block?  The Catholic Church excels in letting local congregations use local pagan customs in worship without losing the basic Catholic dogma, ritual, and symbolism. There is no visually mistaking a Catholic Church for some other denomination in any town. There is always the name and the cross. 

Look at the names of the new attempted church plants. Home Missions seems to want to plant stealth congregations with weird names, no reference to the CRC , sometimes no reference to Christianity in the name.Even old congregations are changing names so people driving by will not know they are CRC. 

The CRC was founded as a Dutch church and now any reference to our (yours, not mine - I never heard of the CRC until 20 years ago) heritage is considered evil by our leadership. The whole push is to become a non-denominational multi everything something. It is plan schizophrenic  to push the new  confession while maintaining a Korean classis and special subdivisions for other racial/cultural groups. Hispanic  is wonderful but Dutch is evil.

I'm no fan of generic "Christian" grade schools but what does the CRC have that earns it the right to be considered a Christian denomination? In other words, what do we do that other denomination don't do better? If we dump Dutch  culture the only thing is our emphasis on higher education, particularly Calvin Col and Sem, and the Dutch interpretation of John Calvin, which is vastly different than Presbyterian theology - and the political/social outworking of the theology is vastly different. Without emphasizing Dutch theology there is no point to continuing the denomination. I'm no preacher or scholar but if you preachers on this list can't see the difference and don't teach the difference then we might as well join the OPC.   

I've read maybe a dozen Bible translations cover to cover and for study, for accuracy, for poetry for the quality as English literature, the NIV is one of the worst! Yet some of our leaders say that it it is to difficult to read as a pew Bible. What does this say about  about the CRC Christian school system? 

 

It took me 30 years to find a denomination with which I agreed theologically and in practice. I signed on only to discover our leadership is dumping the old ways as fast as they can.  Enough rant for now

 

 

 

 

Thanks billwad, why don't you think Reformed churches  can't compete? How do you see Christs victory playing out with the new social norms. Thanks I love to hear other peoples perspective.

Prior to the Babel incident we were of a single culture. We must undo that damage. <G> It is being done. In the western nations thanks to population mixing the old cultural barriers are going down. The young generation is not restricting their pool of potential mates by race, culture, or religion. In a couple of generations North America will mostly be a nice brownish tan color with a generic Christianized national religion. The Catholic Church will adapt better than the Reformed churches but the Islamic call to worship seven times a day will never catch on.

If the old barriers are down on what basis will young people choose a mate? I suggest education, IQ, and ambition, also physical (sexual) attraction. I can see it happening. We will probably self-segregate into a new worker class and a new leader class. 

  

Hi Billwad,  How would you propose to bridge the hurt that exists between social, racial ,cultural groups of believers in Christ?

How about an honest conversation about "race?"

First step would be to eliminate special consideration for black, Hispanic, and Korean members. A special classis for Korean Churches? How about a special classis for Dutch churches?

In the press, any reference to "race" most always boils down to complaints from or about the social status of African-American, second, Hispanic people. Because of miscegenation, at least on the West Coast, "race" is self-designated except for very obviously dark skinned or very obviously Mexican/Central American people. In my neighborhood half the "black" or "Hispanic" people could not be visually identified. How can I discriminate against them if I can't visually identify them? They say, "I am a minority and you don't like me."

By the way, in Snohomish County, WA, Korean people are not legally qualified to call themselves a minority. Why? Maybe because half the new business starts are by Korean-Americans. In this country, only those who are less financially successful or less educated than white people are "minorities?"

In the 1970's the City of Seattle decided to promote on the basis of race. People who had been white for years by some miracle turned into something else.

Truth, the US is the greatest country in the history of world for the working class of any "race." There is no economic reason why any adult with normal health and intelligence should be poor except for a stupendus run of bad luck an we don't believe in luck, right?

Shall I rant on? Time for church.

The Classis of Greater Los Angeles and California South, run a multi-cultural camp for middle school youth. The two-fold vision of the camp is to help kids grow in their relationship with Christ and to identify and weed out the seeds of racism in their lives. We do this by having kids and staff from many different ethnic groups come together under the Lordship of Christ for a week of outragous fun. Contact me if you want more information for potential campers, staff or to start something similar in your area.

Interesting question. To me (a Canadian living in Toronto, one of the world's most multicultural cities), multiculturalism ranges from a tolerance of diversity to the full promotion and celebration of multiculturalism. I believe that, in the context of the Church, we ought to be leaning more to the full celebration of multiculturalism end of the spectrum.

But what does it mean in practice to celebrate multiculturalism within the Church? I think that it must go far beyond have a few token minorities around. While respecting our roots, we should be moving forward to creating a welcoming environment for people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We should be careful that celebrating our Dutchness, for example, does not make others feel excluded and out of place.

My church in Toronto is quite diverse. We do sing songs from various countries (and the music director is quite adamant that we sing them properly, with a view to reflecting the traditional music of the countries of origin of the songs). Sometimes, on holidays, we have people bring greetings in various languages. Still, I think we are still pretty WASPy.

A true celebration of our diverse ethnic roots can likely only occur when we move beyond our own self-absorption to recognize that there are other, interesting people out there. We have to be willing to listen and not just talk. We have to get over our own insecurities and realize that sometimes eating food other than meat and potatoes is a refreshing change.

From my perspective, the fact that we are one in Christ notwithstanding our cultural, ethnic, racial and other differences is beautiful and powerful. We have never met, yet we have the same Saviour and are united in Christ. We share this bond with Christians around the world. I have more in common with you and Christians in China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia that I have in common with my colleagues at work. That's powerful. To discover how Christ has made himself known in Christians around the world is interesting, exciting, and, well, FUN.

Sometimes I think that the urban parts of heaven will be a little bit like Toronto: on any given day, you can walk down the street and hear three or four different languages being spoken. I buy groceries from an Indian lady, fruits and vegetables from a Chinese family, have my hair cut by an Iranian lady, and work with a South African ex-pat. I can eat Greek food for lunch and Ethiopian for dinner, which I enjoy with my friends who hail from Brazil, Singapore, Uganda, the US, Finland, Scotland, and Switzerland. Seriously. For me, this is what multiculturalism is about.

Thank you for getting this conversation started in this space, Angela! We certainly would benefit from extended and persistent attention to reconciliation in public conversation spaces in our denomination, especially when the process becomes heavy and difficult because of needing to examine our own weaknesses, indifference, and lack of faith.

My initial question is about hopes and expectations...does having a conversation about reconciliation in a forum like this shape what hopes or expectations we have for where this conversation might lead us or how vulnerable and personal we are willing to be?

Dear Angela, thanks for your thoughts. Reconciliation is more than just "racial". This one is a fruit of our reconciliation with God. However, we need to realize that "racial reconciliation" is not so popular because it challenge us to recognize our weakness and issues with others. Moreover, we can't just talk about reconciliation in general and not talk about the our cultural differences and how can we respect to each other and also to learn and walk together as disciples of Jesus Christ, our common Lord and Savior.

Rev. Ramon Orostizaga
Jersey City Mission, NJ

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