“In previous generations, the Christian Reformed Church sent missionaries to faraway places such as China, Argentina, Nigeria, and Indonesia,” said Reggie Smith, director of diversity for the CRCNA. “Now the nations are coming to North America and settling in places such as Toronto, Seattle, Miami, and Houston. These diaspora groups are starting spiritual communities and looking for fellow partners with theological connections that fit their cultural homes.”
This is why the CRCNA started the Office of Diversity in 2019, and it is the impetus for Smith’s work. While the Office of Race Relations educates and equips congregations and members to dismantle the causes and effects of racism, the Office of Diversity supports this work by coming alongside leaders and churches from diverse backgrounds to help orient them to the CRCNA and to help the CRCNA benefit from their expertise and experiences.
“In the New Testament,” Smith said, “Pentecost marked the beginning of the church—the growth of the kingdom of God through the contagious outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The birth of the church began with the Spirit changing from the old to the new. In today’s church, the Pentecost fire has been active among groups such as our Latino brothers and sisters.”
Under the leadership of Consejo Latino, an active network of Hispanic ministry leaders within the CRC, a joint agreement led the way for 25 churches in Venezuela to join the Christian Reformed Church. Through training and discipleship, the churches officially joined Classis California South in 2022.
Smith and the Office of Diversity also support leaders representing Korean, African American, First Nations, Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. Together, these groups represent about one-third of all CRCNA churches.
Smith supports these groups in a variety of ways. He attends gatherings such as the San Diego conference for Korean ministry leaders in May. He advocates for the groups with senior denominational leadership. He connects groups to the CRCNA translations team to produce materials and connects them to denominational resources that might be of use. This includes pathways to candidacy, information about affiliation with the CRCNA, tools for various congregational needs, and more.
“The Christian Reformed Church is on the cusp of a shift that might change the future forever,” Smith said. “I believe the Holy Spirit has been nudging us from fearful isolation into engaging hospitality. This is what the Pentecostal fire has been up to in the last 25 years. Let’s not fight the Spirit, but offer ourselves and help stoke the fire.”