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About Us

The Office of Race Relations resources Christian Reformed members and congregations as they dismantle the causes and effects of racism within the body of believers and throughout the world. We help you to live as God’s diverse and unified family.

As a denomination, we believe that dismantling racism is not peripheral to our Christian calling. It’s a Gospel issue!

Our History

Our office was born out the struggles of a local church in Chicago. African American parents from Lawndale CRC who wanted to enroll their children in a nearby “whites only” Christian school made a brave choice: they would struggle together against the forces of segregation and exclusion, for the sake of their children. They brought their concerns to Synod, the CRC’s decision-making body, and our predecessor, the Synodical Committee on Racial Reconciliation, was one of the results.

This is where we come from. We stand on the broad shoulders of those brave parents and of many others of various races and ethnicities who have insisted, sometimes at great cost to themselves, that the church must live as God’s diverse and unified family—or risk selling the Gospel short.

Later, in Canada, several people from diverse racial, ethnic, and faith backgrounds who were joining Christian Reformed churches were seeking authentic ways to remove perceived barriers to fully belonging to the CRC. They started out meeting in living rooms and sharing their stories and faith journeys. Eventually they formally organized themselves into a classical committee and the Canadian racial reconciliation curriculum “Widening the Circle” was created. This original group continues to meet regularly—their work was foundational for our office’s work in Canada.

Learn more about our current work in Canada or read more about the CRC’s history with respect to race relations.

We continue this struggle for equity today through:

  • college scholarships for racial minority people.
  • working with many CRC ministries to address bias and racism within our denomination.
  • encouraging and empowering ethnic minority leaders of various backgrounds through networks of support.
  • offering workshops and coaching for CRC members and congregations in both Canada and the United States who sense that we still have much work to do to live fully as God’s diverse and unified family.

There are many ways to get involved—browse around this website for some ideas to get started!

Our Mandate

The Ministry of Race Relations is mandated by synod "to design, organize, and implement programs that will assist the denomination, churches, and members in eliminating the causes and effects of racism within the body of believers and throughout the world." (Read our full mandate.)

We are ready to help your congregation to live more fully into God’s call for the Church!

Download this one-page summary of who ORR is and what we do.

Contact a staff member from the list below, or email [email protected] and we’ll direct it to the correct team member.

Our Team

Mark Stephenson

Mark Stephenson

Interim Director

Idella Winfield

Church and Community Engagement Coordinator
Rudy Gonzalez

Rudy Gonzalez

Organizational Antiracism Facilitator
Viv Cornejo

Viviana Cornejo

Racial Curriculum and Instruction Specialist

Chelsea Schiavi

Administrative and Volunteer Assistant

Why is Racism a Gospel Issue?

Check out this conversation between Professor Matthew Tuininga of Calvin Seminary, Rev. Shiao Chong of The Banner, Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige of Calvin College (now Calvin University), our director Rev. Reggie Smith, and our communications coordinator Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan to hear robust Reformed discussion of this question.

Or read the CRC’s statement on diversity, God's Diverse and Unified Family.