Canadian Board Approves Senior Leader for Indigenous Reconciliation in Canada

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Editor's note: This story was published Oct. 8, 2021 with a different graphic and slightly different headline. The word "Canadian" was added to the headline on Oct. 12 and the graphic was changed Oct. 13 to clear up any confusion. 

The Canada Corporation of the Christian Reformed Church in North America has approved pursuing a senior leader for Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation. The position will be full time, replacing a half-time position that previously gave staff support to the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee. The Canadian board approved the job description and gave the executive director for Canada the go-ahead to pursue a search at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Priya Andrade, interim Justice and Reconciliation mobilizer with the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee, and Mike Hogeterp, director of the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue, presented the proposal. It puts the leadership of the Indigenous Ministry Committee alongside other leaders in justice and reconciliation work in Canada, each reporting directly to Canada’s executive director. Hogeterp said “this draws all justice and reconciliation units in Canada together for collaboration, discernment, prayer, and mutual support."

The board also approved adding some pieces to the purpose and mandate of the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee. The Committee, according to its 2015 mandate, “facilitates the response of Indigenous people to the healing power of Christ within the context of Indigenous culture. It has the specific role of educating and mobilizing CRC members and congregations to live in reconciled relationships as covenant (treaty) people before our Creator” (parentheses original). The newly added purpose specifies that work will “actively and intentionally” respond to two calls to action—#59 and #60—from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission “through educational programs targeted at institutional and congregational systemic change” and indicates an advisory role in “supporting intercultural ministry in the CRC.”

In discussing the proposal, delegates to the meeting asked about how the expansion of the position would be funded. Terry Veldboom, acting executive director for the CRCNA in Canada, said, “We would look at it in the context of the whole of our budget dollars devoted to Indigenous ministries.” Veldboom said he would take the board’s passing of this proposal as a directive to move ahead with this as a ministry priority and “staff will have to put the pieces together and present our plans and budgets for next May.”

Andy DeRuyter, president of the Canada Corporation and a member from Classis B.C. North-West, said, “This is something we've talked about often in the past and asked for.”

Ministry of the CRC in Canada with Indigenous peoples includes the national work of the Committee and urban ministry centers in Winnipeg, Man.; Regina, Sask.; and Edmonton, Alta. The committee, known first at the Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee, has been active since 2007.

National Anti-Racism Committee

Canada Corporation approved another national committee at its Oct. 2 meeting, this one to work alongside Pablo Kim Sun, senior leader for anti-racism and intercultural conciliation. The National Anti-Racism and Intercultural Conciliation Advisory Committee will function like the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee and the Canadian Committee for Contact with the Government, two specific Canadian ministry committees. The board approved an initial description and six members for the committee. A seventh is to be confirmed at the board’s Oct. 14 meeting.

Kim Sun was hired in May and is the first to hold the position of senior leader for anti-racism, approved as full time. A previous part-time role of race relations advocate in Canada had been vacant since August 2019. At the Oct. 2 meeting Kim Sun said, “I am here because of the work and the efforts of my predecessors, allies and advocates, who put in enormous energy and time, and because of your prayers and support. And I believe that behind all these endeavors, the Holy Spirit was working powerfully.”

He said the new team, “committed to the work of anti-racism intercultural conciliation,” will put into action “the aspirations, ideals and commitments articulated on various church statements and official documents.” The committee’s guiding documents include “God’s Diverse and Unified Family,” a study committee report to Synod 1996; the Confession of Belhar, adopted as a contemporary testimony of the CRCNA in 2017; and “Creating a New Family: A Circle of Conversation on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery,” a study committee report received by Synod 2016.

The Oct. 2 meeting was conducted by video conference, and the board will meet again by video conference as part of the CRC’s Council of Delegates meetings Oct. 13-15. The Council is a binational board of the denomination composed of one delegate from each classis (regional group of churches) and a few at-large delegates. It meets three times a year. Separate boards—the Canada Corporation and U.S. Corporation—govern nation-specific matters for the two charitable entities that make up the CRCNA.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.

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