Soul Change

By Roxanne Van Farowe

(Article first appeared in the December 2005 issue of The Banner. Used with permission.)

Heather Rosema has a plan to bring racial reconciliation into her life.

In a letter to God, Rosema made a commitment to invite people of color into her circle of close friends. She also promised to speak out when she hears racial slurs and to persevere in helping her church pursue racial reconciliation.

 Rosema wrote the letter at “Soul Change,” a racial reconciliation conference held in September at Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. She was one of a dozen people from nearby Roosevelt Park Community CRC who attended.

The purpose of Soul Change was “to continue gathering people together for the work of racial reconciliation,” said Esteban Lugo, the CRC’s director of Race Relations. He said a movement toward racial reconciliation started in February when eight West Michigan churches formed a group called Soul Changers, which now meets regularly.

The Soul Change conference was led by Brenda Salter McNeil, author of The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change. “For me, reconciliation is an ongoing spiritual process,” she said. “God’s work in the human heart is to restore us to the interest of God’s heart.”

Worship was key to the conference. The group opened and closed with times of prayer and praise, and on Sunday evening a combined worship service was held at Madison Square CRC. The response to the conference was overwhelmingly positive. “I sensed high energy and high interest in the room throughout the day,” said Rev. Dave Beelen of Madison Square CRC. “The Spirit was obviously poured out on people who are in the trenches and have been battling for racial reconciliation for years and needed to be encouraged.”