Race Relations and Office of Social Justice Roles to Be Combined

At its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church approved integrating the role of Race Relations director with Office of Social Justice’s (OSJ) coordinator role.

But the decision was not made easily. Trustee Rev. Emmett Harrison from Grand Rapids, Mich., worried that the work of Race Relations would get less priority if absorbed into OSJ, that it could lead to “a diminishment in terms of money, time to do the job,” he said. “That is the view from the ground level in a minority community.”

Ms. Aaltje Van Grootheest of Victoria, B.C., was also concerned that there not be a perception that Race Relations was “moving down a peg but remains a top priority.”

Executive director Steve Timmermans assured trustees that the intent of the move is to amplify the work of both offices.

The board approved the change but also wants ongoing reporting to ensure that Race Relations does not lose prioritization and that it have a healthy budget allocation as a part of the whole ministry.

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

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This merger suggests to me that what was the activity of Race Relations will likely become an activity that focuses on the political, that is, staking out political postures, supporting or opposing groups that are advocating about  race issues as if those issues are solely or predominantly political issues, and lobbying for or against pending or proposed legislation that somehow involve race. 

And these positions will be decided/taken by a very few people who will purport to speak politically for all CRC churches and members, whether or not they actually do.  After all, it is obvious, is it not, what "justice" (or even "social justice," whatever exactly that is) concretely means in thousands of real life circumstances?

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