When the Council of Delegates met Oct. 14-16, 2020, it had anti-racism efforts on several parts of its agenda. The 60-member Council carries out the governance of Christian Reformed Church denominational ministries between the annual meeting of the CRC’s synod.
When the delegates from Canada (known as the Canada Corporation) met, they were asked to approve hiring a full-time leader for the office of race relations in Canada. The position had previously been half time and has been vacant for over a year.
Mike Hogeterp, director of the CRC’s Centre for Public Dialogue in Canada, told delegates that Black and Indigenous people and other people of color have expressed fatigue, frustration, and disengagement with the denomination.
“Congregants and staff express a struggle with a sense of belonging in the CRC,” he reported. “There is a felt experience that the CRC has forgotten beautiful commitments like God’s Diverse and Unified Family (a 1996 study committee report) and watches racism from the sidelines of privilege and indifference.”
Delegates approved the position, which will add $70,000 to the Canada Corporation’s annual budget.
A report to the full council noted that denominational race relations staff find it challenging to do the work of anti-racism “within a denominational system that is generally white.”
The Office of Race Relations in the U.S. will come to the Council in February asking for a modification of its mandate, “placing responsibility for initiating anti-racism work with the leaders of congregations and agency leaders rather than ORR. ORR will maintain responsibility for developing materials and for initiating inquiries with agencies and congregations.”
In addition to changes and challenges within the race relations ministries, the Council allotted 90 minutes for unity and diversity engagement, discussing what it means for each member of the Council and for the Council as a body to support anti-racism efforts.
From that discussion they produced a working document that tracked the discussion for internal use within the Council.