For Rev. Sheila Holmes, it has been a long journey from first arriving in a Christian Reformed Church chapel at age 11 to becoming the first woman and first African American to be president of the CRC’s Board of Trustees. In an address to Synod 2014, Holmes exhorted delegates to continue the church’s journey toward becoming a more diverse and active body of Christ.
“I challenge you to move to a place where we are not just doing things because we can intellectually do it, but because the Spirit of God is compelling and moving us to do it,” Holmes said in her Board of Trustees report.
Having completed her six-year term on the Board, including the past year as president, Holmes said it has been a great year, but that greater challenges lie ahead.
She pointed to the appointment of a new executive director, Steve Timmermans, and a new Canadian ministries director, Darren Roorda. She also noted--though with a caveat--that the percentage of ethnic minority delegates was high enough this year that ethnic advisers were no longer needed.
“As we come to be the body of Christ, it is not enough for us to have just 25 people of ethnicity at synod and say we’ve done our job,” Holmes said. “There’s more that is needed.”
More is needed too, she said, to put flesh on the bones of new initiatives such as the Task Force to Review Structure and Culture, closer work with the Reformed Church in America, and increased emphasis on being a binational church.
“Just because we put it on paper and say this is the way it is, it is not enough,” she said. “We will not get anywhere but just have new paper and new things we can quote and say, but it will not change our lives.”
Likewise, the church needs to do more than just pay lip service to greater participation by young people, she added: “I want us to stop talking about who youth are and what youth do, but let youth be. Let youth be the thriving portion of this denomination that makes changes.”
She gave thanks to CRC administrators and trustees for their work and support of her, as well as those who encouraged her to find a faith home in a mostly white church in Paterson, N.J. She went on to become a minister and a member of the board of Christian Reformed Home Missions before joining the Board of Trustees.
“I can say to you I am not Dutch, and I’m happy about that. But I want to say to you, I am worth much,” she said to laughter and applause.
“There’s been rough years and there’s been good years,” she said of the CRC. “As we are coming through the good years, God has continued to allow us to grow together.”
Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, 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.