by Dave Zuidema
Dancing has never been one of the Christian Reformed Church’s strong points. And I think it was around the mid-1980s before my alma mater Eastern Christian High School was allowed to have a dance that wasn’t the Junior-Senior Banquet (the fact that it was ‘banquet’, not ‘prom’ pretty much tells you everything you need to know…). Dancing, after all, could lead to ‘other things…’
So “The Dance of Racial Reconciliation” may seem an odd choice for the name of the denomination’s new racial reconciliation curriculum; but when 30 people gathered on a January weekend to explore the need for racial reconciliation in Classis Hudson and Classis Hackensack, they found that ‘dance’ is a perfect description.
Under the direction of Esteban Lugo, Director of CRCNA’s Office of Race Relations, a diverse group of classical leaders were introduced to the Dance of Racial Reconciliation (DORR) curriculum. Esteban was assisted by Pastor Fred Witteveen of Friendship Community Church (Ontario Canada) and Rev. Sheila Holmes of Northside Community CRC (Paterson, NJ) – both of whom helped to create the curriculum.
The facilitators led the participants through a wide variety of whole-group seminars and small-group exercises, everything from Bible study to drama to ‘sculpting’ a representation of God’s diverse Kingdom using play-doh. The curriculum was organized around three main segments: recognizing and affirming the Kingdom value of diversity, recognizing and dismantling racism (historically and as it exists in our world today) and committing to and planning for racial reconciliation.
Working through these concepts in an organized and focused way was extremely beneficial. As a guy from white suburbia, it’s easy to take for granted the advantages I have (or deny they exist to keep my conscience clear). But in the end, it simply comes back to the foundational questions all Christians should be asking themselves – especially Reformed ones: Is this what God intended for creation? What can I do to help bring this reality closer to what God intended? The DORR training helps answer these questions in a way that motivates participants to further action.
The ‘dancing’ came in as a diverse group of participants got to know each other throughout the course of the weekend. On a basic level, dancing is movement in harmony, and that’s certainly one way to describe the goal of racial reconciliation – not uniformity, mind you, but individual expressions that harmonize with each other. By the end of the training, there was a deeper sense of this harmony among participants than there was at the start.
It is our prayer that this dancing will lead to ‘other things’ – namely a broad commitment by classes Hudson and Hackensack to pursue racial reconciliation at the classical level, with the goal of fostering true healing and reconciliation among the members of the Christian Reformed Church in this region. Follow-up meetings are already in the works, to encourage DORR participants to intentionally stay focused on racial reconciliation.
Imagine the power of the church when we value every part of God’s incredible diversity as He does; when we fully deploy the gifts, skills and cultural resources with which He has blessed us. Then we will be an irresistible example of witness to our communities of the love and grace of Christ for which they are thirsting!