Reformed Worship Symposium - Unity in Diversity

Last week, six members of Mountainview attended the Calvin Symposium on Worship, and I want to tell you what we witnessed. There were 1,400 people who gathered in the cold confines of Calvin’s Campus covered in snow. They came from all over. There were students and professors from 77 different highschools, colleges, universities and seminaries. They came from 37 different countries around the world, people from different generations, cultures, and ministry contexts. What struck me was so many people from so many different places and races came together to worship the same triune God. Already in 1957, the Christian Reformed Church stood up and spoke against racial segregation. These declarations were affirmed in 1968, 1969, and 1977. The Synod of 1971 established a Committee on Racial Relations, known as SCORR. In 1981 it became a standing committee and in 1986 they appointed a director. In 1995 it became known as the Office of Race Relations. In 1996 Synod accepted a report called “God’s Diverse and Unified Family.” In 1996 Synod welcomed “Ethnic Advisors” and continued that practice until 2014, when there were 28 ethnic delegates appointed to Synod. At the Synod of 2012, Synod adopted the Belhar Confession, not as one of our confessions but as a recognized ecumenical confession within the Reformed Tradition. What I mean to say by all of this is that the Christian Reformed Church has been working hard at tearing down the walls of racial tension and working towards diversity and unity for close to seventy years now, and there is no place where that is more evident than at the Calvin Worship Symposium. We had seminars given in Spanish; the multiple streams of African-American Worship, and Multilingual Singing for English-speaking Congregations. During one song we were invited to sing English, Korean and Spanish all at the same time. There was a Roman Catholic hymnologist teaching New Songs and a Canadian Aboriginal Professor given tremendous insights from a Christian First Nations perspective. On Friday evening we celebrated with the completion of a brand-new hymnal from some 600 black congregations across the United States of America. What we witnessed was a tremendous sense of Unity in Diversity. Each day began with an excellent service with excellent musicians and excellent sermons from a Reformed perspective and each day ended the same way. Good worship was modelled well, moving us into our center of Christ Jesus, our Lord. With all the tensions around racial divisions, gang war and dividing walls on nightly news casts walking into the Worship Symposium at Calvin College was like experiencing a taste of heaven. “May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” and it was so.                             Pastor Sid

Karin Terpstra