In 2000, members of Church of the Servant began a focused effort to discern how we can become an antiracist church. With the council’s endorsement, an antiracism team of nearly 20 COS members began reflecting on this theme, setting goals, and finding ways to promote antiracism and reconciliation in all areas of the church’s life. Some of the outgrowths of this work are described here:
Understanding Racism Workshop
Working in partnership with two other local Christian Reformed congregations — Coit Community Church and Madison Square CRC — we developed the Understanding Racism Workshop to raise awareness and help participants organize for racial reconciliation. The workshop is offered regularly and is led by two trained facilitators, Janice McWhertor from COS and Laura Carpenter from Madison Square. The goals of the workshop are:
- To see and experience racism in a new and redemptive way
- To gain insights into systemic racism through the eyes of faith and scripture
- To see more of the connections between history and contemporary race relations
- To identify organizing opportunities to eliminate racism, both causes and effects, within the body of believers and throughout the world
Congregations Organizing for Racial Reconciliation (CORR)
The three partner churches that created the Understanding Racism Workshop formed a separate committee, Congregations Organizing for Racial Reconciliation (CORR), to help administer our antiracism work. Here’s what CORR is about:
Mission: We exist to empower and equip churches and other Christian organizations in West Michigan to organize and disciple their members to become agents of institutional and individual racial reconciliation.
Vision: We are a community of churches and Christian organizations who are agents of racial reconciliation.
- Christian. We are dedicated to be more and more conformed to Christ, as individuals and in community.
- Collaboration. We are eager to collaborate with interested congregations and other Christian organizations, and utilize other antiracist resources.
- Accountability. We are committed, as a multiracial team, to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, with special attentiveness to the voices of racial groups in church and community who are often left unheard.
- Congregational focus. Our ministry is designed to be integrated with the entire life and witness of the local church.
- Organizing. We are committed to strategic use of our spiritual and physical resources for long-term effectiveness.
Our congregation has formed a sister-church relationship with Coit Community Church in northeast Grand Rapids. Together, we’re working to build relationships and overcome racial barriers through joint worship, outreach events, and times of fellowship.
Information and Advocacy
Current information on the theme of racism is available to members through these means:
- Resource cart. The Antiracism Team has organized a cart full of antiracism books, movies, and other resources readily available for people to borrow. Look for the cart near the welcome counter in the café area. (View a list of available resources.)
- Events. Throughout the year, the Antiracism Team plans opportunities to encourage the congregation to learn more about racism and how to dismantle it. Events include movie screenings, scripture studies, and speakers to guide conversation and learning. Our team, the church council, and our staff see the task of fighting racism as an important part of our congregation’s discipleship journey.
- Publicity. Through bulletin announcements, the Antiracism Team encourages our congregation to take advantage of workshops, seminars, and other opportunities offered throughout greater Grand Rapids.
In 2004, the Christian Reformed Church synod gave an antiracism mandate to the churches. This statement helps motivate us to continue this work. The mandate is “to initiate and provide effective and collaborative training, programs, and organizing actions in ways that mobilize Christian Reformed agencies and educational institutions, as well as classes and congregations, to recognize, expose, and dismantle racism in all its forms and to experience true biblical reconciliation as a diverse and unified people of God.”
Church of the Servant Statement
COS approved its own antiracism statement in May 2007:
“Church of the Servant hopes to become an anti-racist and multi-ethnic community of faith that intentionally recognizes, exposes and dismantles racism in all its forms. Through this anti-racist and multi-ethnic community we hope to experience true biblical reconciliation, where people are equally honored and proclaimed precious in Christ.”
For more information about these efforts, please contact staff member Janice McWhertor at 956-7611 or email@example.com.