Synod 2013 approved plans to hire and inspire ethnically diverse leaders in the Christian Reformed Church.
To implement the plans, Synod approved a budget of $100,000 for each of the next two years.
The plans include
- a goal that all denominational boards strive for 25 percent multiethnic members;
- an action plan to ensure fair treatment of all staff; and
- specific plans to identify and recruit multiethnic staff to be in place by 2014.
Several delegates raised concerns that the goal of raising multiethnic leaders should not be forced by top-down mandates but should happen naturally.
“If you don’t have a goal, nothing moves you,” responded Rev. Peter Byma, who reported on the plan for synod. “I often have a goal of losing weight, but if I don’t put a number to it, nothing seems to change.”
“This recommendation does not restrict anyone from engaging in their own grassroots efforts,” said young adult representative Kyle Schaap. “Why not institutionalize these best practices at the highest levels? It will be a testament to our deepest commitments, and it will lend credibility and integrity to our witness.”
Stanley Jim, Classis Red Mesa, said that concrete measures will help ensure that something happens: “Since 1996 we have been bringing things before synod and talking about diversity but we haven’t really done anything yet because we leave it open-ended.” Jim was on the task force that brought the plan to synod.
Grassroots involvement is vital to make the plans succeed, executive director Joel Boot said.
Byma echoed that sentiment: “This is 100 percent dependent on your involvement at the classical level, making nominations, to include the awareness and encouragement and training of ethnic minorities—that’s the beauty of what we talked about,” he said, referring to conversation that happened in committee.
“I really love the way that the denomination is going right now,” said Harold Caicedo, another ethnic adviser. “I think the future of this church is unity in diversity. It means not only integrate the people but know the people.”
“Let’s start with our own homes and personal lives and community,” said ethnic adviser Jimmy Han. “It’s not just about trying to be top-down—it’s about trying to give goals, set goals, not to be multiethnic but to be a loving church to your community.” Delegates applauded his words.
Although the report to synod had asked for the two-year appointment of a diversity leader, the plan adopted by synod will instead be implemented through executive director Joel Boot’s office.
Synod closed the session in prayer, with the leaders who had crafted the plan for diversity in leadership standing in front of the delegates. Their task force, known as Diversity in Leadership Planning Group II, had worked on their report since mandated by Synod 2011.
Synod 2013 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. from June 7-14. For continuous Banner coverage of Synod 2013, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.