Recent diversity audits at West Michigan church and Western Theological Seminary reveal that minority leaders in both the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America commonly experience feelings of isolation, abandonment, and even bitterness, said Nathaniel Bull, an ordained pastor in urban ministry at Vanguard Church in Kalamazoo, Mich.
L-r: Laura Carpenter, Angela Taylor Perry, and Victoria Proctor Gibbs.
Bull was one of the organizers of the Great Lakes Multiethnic Empowerment Gathering held May 4, 2013, at Vanguard. The purpose of the conference was to encourage minority leaders within the Great Lakes region and hopefully result in the formation of a multiethnic empowerment council, said Bull.
The leaders, representing approximately 20 churches from within the region, 10 of them CRC, addressed both goals that day. Bull observed that many of these ethnic leaders, “tired from the uphill battle of being in denominations where there is little diversity,” learned that others were feeling the same.”
Angela Taylor Perry, pastor of prayer at Third Christian Reformed Church, Kalamazoo, Mich., found it helpful “to be together, to network, check one another out, and see how we’re doing.” She noted that “the worship experience was fantastic,” including times of prayer for each other.
Those gathered heard greetings from Moses Chung, director of Christian Reformed Home Missions, and Esteban Lugo, director of Race Relations for the CRC. Before the event concluded, several nominations had been received for a multiethnic empowerment council aimed at continuing the momentum built that day.
Bull noted that already work has begun on a number of initiatives, including a Great Lakes regional list of both ordained and non-ordained CRC and RCA minority leaders, a newsletter, and the establishment of a multiethnic empowerment council.
Future gatherings are also being discussed.