Synod 2013 is being asked to approve spending $1 million over two years to help further the goal of ethnic diversity in the senior leadership of the Christian Reformed Church. That is one of the key recommendations coming from the Diversity in Leadership Planning Group (DLPG II).
This is the second report on Diversity in Leadership since Synod 2009 instructed the Board of Trustees and then-executive director Gerard Dykstra to convene “an ethnically inclusive group to develop a statement of vision and strategy for increasing multiethnic representation within the leadership of the denomination.”
Synod 2011 received the first report and adopted some recommendations. But it also expanded the original group and asked it, among other things, to propose strategies to raise up and mentor diverse leaders at all levels of the church.
The committee proposes that the directors of Human Resources and Race Relations develop a plan for identifying and recruiting multiethnic leaders and create a database of candidates. To grow that list of leadership candidates, the committee is recommending the development of training materials that can be used in local churches, classis meetings, regional events, and conferences to equip people for service in all levels of the church.
Regional workshops would provide training on the importance of participation on denominational boards, how boards function, how to become effective board members, and how classis meetings run, in addition to covering CRC history and polity.
To help denominational boards achieve a goal of 25 percent multiethnic representation, pastors would be called upon to solicit multiethnic members to participate at broader levels of the church. Classes (regional groups of churches) would be asked to be intentional about nominating diverse people to denominational boards.
Another recommendation is for enhanced and ongoing professional development in diversity education and cultural sensitivity for all staff. Each agency and educational institution would be required to include diversity goals and timelines in their strategic plan.
Since implementing those strategies would take time and money, DLPG II is asking Synod 2013 to approve a two-year term for a person to implement both the recommendations adopted by Synod 2011 and these new recommendations. The person would be appointed by and report directly to the executive director.
The committee recommends spending $1 million over two years to fund salary, administrative support, development of training resources and curriculum, software, staff development, and travel. It is asking Synod 2013 to designate 0.25 of the denomination’s total budget, including Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, to the fund the diversity efforts.
In response to the specific request of Synod 2011 that the committee address the role of the Office of Race Relations, the committee recommended that Synod 2013 affirm that the office continue to collaborate with denominational ministries “to ensure that the denomination’s commitment to a racism-free environment and multiethnic diversity will be strengthened and sustained.”
Synod 2013 will meet in Grand Rapids, Mich., June 7-14. This report is contained in the Agenda for Synod, available at crcna.org. Printed copies are also sent to each congregation.