Committee to Study Immigration Issues

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An overture (request) from Classis Zeeland reportedly caused some hurt feelings but led synod to create a new study committee on immigration issues.

Classis Zeeland asked synod to recommend its report on immigration issues to other churches and classes. The report questioned whether undocumented workers should be included in the Lord’s Supper and included the heading “Immigration Status and the Nature of Sin.”

“To put their overture in the light of a discipline issue without even having conversations with Hispanics was deeply hurtful,” said Rev. Esteban Lugo, director of the CRC’s office of Race Relations. “But I see it as a great opportunity for the CRC to begin to have an effective ministry to minorities.”

Synod voted to form a committee to “study the issue of the migration of workers as it relates to the church’s ministries of inclusion, compassion, and hospitality, and to propose ways for the church to advocate on behalf of those who are marginalized.” The committee will report to Synod 2010.

“I’d like to apologize for the great offense and hurt we caused our Hispanic brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Ron De Young of Classis Zeeland. De Young said he received several e-mails that “made my heart sink” after the overture was published. The intent of the classis had been to better minister to undocumented workers.

“It has become painfully evident that our desire to be God’s diverse, unified family is difficult to implement,” said Rev. Ken Baker, chair of synod’s advisory committee on the issue.

Baker’s committee arranged for members of Classis Zeeland to meet with Lugo, Hispanic CRC leaders, and members of the denomination’s offices of Social Justice and Race Relations.

Numerous delegates spoke in support of appointing the study committee.

“[Undocumented workers] have left home for the same reason you came here—to seek a better way of life and support for their families,” elder Ted Charles of Classis Red Mesa told synod. “It may be our Christian duty to help them become legal.”

About the Author

Roxanne Van Farowe is a freelance writer living in North Carolina. She has reported on synod, the annual decision-making gathering of the CRC, for many years.