Synod 2015 (the general assembly of the CRC) strongly encouraged the classes (regional groups of churches) and congregations to engage in the Blanket Exercise some time in the coming year. The delegates were introduced to the exercise with a brief video.
In the exercise, derived from the traditions of Native peoples, blankets of various colors and types are laid on a large floor. Participants walk over, bunch up, otherwise use, and claim the blankets as directed by the coordinators, illustrating the relationships of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the histories of Canada and the United States. It is said to be a “practical, powerful, [and] experiential way to understand . . . the dynamics of power without a voice.”
Several delegates spoke passionately in favor of the proposal. Rev. Russell Boersma, Classis Northcentral Iowa, mentioned the CRC’s own history, “where the attempt to take the Indian out of the Indian was done.” The CRC ran schools for the Navajo for many years.
Caleb Dickson, ethnic advisor from Classis Red Mesa, called attention to the place names in the area where synod was meeting: Sioux Center, Sioux Falls, and Sioux City. “The Sioux,” he said, “is a tribe of Indians. We were devalued as people. Stripped of our humanity. That was [considered] part of our heathenness. We were punished for being Indian. Let’s not whitewash over the pain.”
Rev. Charles Kooger, Alberta South/Saskatchewan, pointed out, “The reconciling work of Christ is never done.”
Elder Fronse Smith, Sr., Classis Holland, wanted to know, “Where is the land of the African American?”
Synod 2015 is meeting at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, from June 12-18. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit crcna.org. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.
About the Author
Clayton Libolt was the long time pastor of River Terrace Church in East Lansing, Mich. Since his retirement, he has served in a variety of interim positions. He is presently serving as the interim senior pastor of Sonlight Community CRC in Lynden, Wash.