Synod 2022 took a few steps to further racial justice work in Christian Reformed Church churches, prompted by a request from one of its regional groups of congregations.
Although gender and sexuality issues took first priority at this synod, delegates discussed racial justice for more than an hour. They worked through a series of proposals as a response to Classis Greater Los Angeles’ overture to “oppose white supremacy and systemic racism.”
“White supremacy is real, it’s as real as apple pie,” said Wayne Coleman, Classis Hackensack. “I wish we had more passion for racial unity. We’ve been talking about it for too long … we need to make this practical somehow.”
Jeffery Hough, Classis Muskegon, said, “We have to realize that when people in the CRC start having conversations (on racism) when there are no minorities around, that is when change happens.” (Editor's note: When this story was published June 16 there was a seven-word summary of Pastor Hough's speech, introducing his quotation. The sentence paraphrase suggested something that he did not intend to say and has since been removed.)
- Asked Calvin Seminary to report on how they teach a Reformed perspective on race and justice issues.
- Encouraged church leaders to question candidates for ministry on their commitment to racial justice.
- Reminded CRC churches that elders should defend biblical justice, and deacons should seek justice and work to change “exploitative structures or indifferent systems.”
- Encouraged the CRC to continue producing materials to help churches work in this area.
- Asked the general secretary to report back to Synod 2023 with “praise reports of positive progress and prayer requests for challenges and concerns.”
“As a woman, a minority, now an elder, I have faced many types of discrimination,” said Darlene Silversmith, ethnic adviser. “I do try to preach justice, even if I only have a license to exhort.”
Ethnic adviser Hyung-Jun Kim, who lives in British Columbia, said he appreciated the proposals “although I don’t feel this is comprehensive enough.” He added that the Canadian and American contexts and issues around racial justice need to be interpreted differently.
Mary Rupke, Classis Lake Erie, said she takes seriously the instruction for elders to defend biblical justice. “In the church, things that happen at synod often do not filter down,” she said. “Our conversations here were hard, honest, and helpful. If we can help that to happen (in our home churches) then I hope we take that seriously.”
Synod 2022 is meeting at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 10-16. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at thebanner.org/synod, download the Banner app on your mobile device, or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook. On Twitter follow #crcsynod or twitter.com/crcna. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church (it did not gather in 2020 or 2021). Connect to the meeting’s livestream, read advisory committee reports, and find other resources at crcna.org/synod.