The Dance of Diversity

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!

Dave Zuidema is a member of the Race Relations Task Force of classes Hudson and Hackensack, and Administrative Assistant to Northeast Community Transformation.  He is a member of Covenant CRC.

ALL Things?

ALL Things from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to RECONCILE to himself ALL THINGS… (Col. 1:16, 19-20)
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Good Neighborhoods from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

Communities of exclusion hurt us all.
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Developing God’s Eyes and Heart for the Community

Developing God’s Eyes and Heart for the Community from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

How should churches approach people in their communities?  To see real development and change we need to look at communities and neighbors not through our eyes, but rather through God’s eyes.
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What If? from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

What if we actually practiced what we preached and loved our neighbors as ourselves?  What could we accomplish if we only try?  What if we put our communities first?
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Calvin Church: Developing a Community Vision

Calvin Church: Developing a Community Vision from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

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A Partnership Case Study

Anaheim Church and the Orange County Christian Charities (OCCC) partnered together to more effectively help people in need throughout their communities.
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Terri, a former prostitute, talks about her life changing experience and building relationships.  Mercy with relationships leads to results.
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Effective Aid from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

When is aid most effective?  When a person has a goal and works to achieve that goal.
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Christmas Store

Christmas Store from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

During Christmas The Other Way runs a Christmas Store which is aimed at restoring dignity to Christmas.  Rather than giving away gifts people work in the store to build up credit, and then shop for gifts with the credit they have earned.  Dignity comes with involvement.
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Deciding to Move

Deciding to Move from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

John and Trudy Shuravloff discuss how and why they decided to move out of their suburban dream home to the Roosevelt neighborhood of Bellingham, Washington.  John and Trudy are examples of when Christians love their community enough to give shape to them.
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