Office of Advocacy and Race Relations

Living into a multicultural, multiracial future freed from racism, sexism, and ableism

The office of advocacy and race relations helps the Reformed Church in America move toward a multicultural and multiracial future freed from racism, sexism, and ableism. The ministries within this office also work to fulfill Transformed & Transforming, the RCA’s 15-year plan for ministry. 

The office of advocacy and race relations was formed in 2021 to prioritize the full inclusion of racial/ethnic minorities, women, and people who have disabilities in the church. Several ministries now housed within this office have already been a vibrant part of the RCA for a number of years; their important work continues in the office of advocacy and race relations. 

Together, the advocacy and race relations team equips leaders, churches, and organizations to establish equitable and hospitable ministry practices. They also inform the RCA’s ministry work at the denominational level to ensure it is equitable.

The biblical vision

Revelation 7:9-10 ultimately paints the God-given vision that propels us in this work. 

“There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” – Revelation 7:9-10

How advocacy and race relations can support your church

Training
Resources
Tools

Ministries

Equity-Based Hospitality

Equity-based hospitality is the biblical practice of welcoming both friends and strangers in generous, kind, respectful, flexible, barrier-free ways. This ministry provides resources and training for equitable hospitality in the areas of race, gender, age, socioeconomic background, and disability.

ebh@rca.org

Learn more about equity-based hospitality

Racial Justice

This office’s goal is to encourage, assist, and equip RCA leaders and churches to focus on systemic causes of injustice in order to dismantle racism. The RCA elevates the importance of dismantling racism in its governance through the E-5 Ends Policy:

“The RCA commitment is to name racism as a sin, and to work against its prevalence and pervasiveness both within our relationships and our denominational system, and in the wider domestic and global communities. Our efforts at eradicating racism call for us to change not only our systems but also our hearts for each other and for the life matters that concern each other.”

—RCA general secretary’s interpretation, General Synod Council Ends Policy E-5

advocacy@rca.org

Learn more and explore dismantling racism resources

Women’s Transformation and Leadership

The ministry of Women’s Transformation and Leadership works toward the full inclusion of women’s gifts and influence in the church. This ministry encourages and equips women to fulfill their God-given callings and helps churches to create environments where mixed-gender partnerships can thrive.

women@rca.org

Learn more and explore Women’s Transformation and Leadership resources

Disability Concerns

The ministry of Disability Concerns advocates for and resources churches to become places where people of all abilities belong and serve. About 20 percent of people in the U.S. and Canada have at least one disability. Your church can become a healthier community by fully including people with disabilities in its life and ministry.

disability@rca.org

Learn more and explore disability resources

Meet the team

Rev. Pete Watts

Supervisor of Advocacy and Race Relations

Rev. Liz Testa

Coordinator for Women’s Transformation and Leadership and Equity-Based Hospitality

Rev. Terry DeYoung

Coordinator for Disability Concerns

Lorraine Parker

Administrative Assistant for Women’s Transformation and Leadership and AABC

Erika Fleming

Administrative Assistant and Event Planning Specialist

Lesley Mazzotta

Women’s Transformation and Leadership Specialist

Racial/ethnic councils

The RCA has three councils dedicated to representing members and congregations who belong to racial/ethnic communities. The Commission on Race and Ethnicity also advises the denomination on issues of race.

African American Black Council (AABC)

In addition to being the voice of African American and black congregants and congregations in the RCA, the AABC also advocates for policies of inclusion and economic, social, and racial justice.

Council for Hispanic Ministries

In addition to being the voice of Hispanic congregants and congregations in the RCA, the council also advocates for policies of inclusion and economic, social, and racial justice. All Hispanic RCA ministers of Word and sacrament, commissioned pastors, elders, and deacons are encouraged to join.

Council for Pacific and Asian American Ministries

In addition to being the voice of Pacific and Asian American congregants and congregations in the RCA, CPAAM also advocates for policies of inclusion and economic, social, and racial justice.

Podcasts

Lavish Hope

Hosted by Rev. Liz Testa

Lavish Hope is about finding inspiration during a time when there are so many challenges, especially for marginalized communities and peoples. On this podcast you’ll uncover the kernel of resilience, the mustard seed of faith, that helps you get back to leading faithfully.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe on Spotify

The Black Church Still Speaks

Hosted by Rev. Peter Watts

The vision of The Black Church Still Speaks Podcast is to acknowledge the historical legacy of the Black church, reaffirm her biblical identity, and rediscover her missional vitality. 

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe on Spotify

Featured resources and opportunities

Everybody Belongs, Serving Together: Inclusive Ministry Guide

This comprehensive guide to fully inclusive ministry with people who have disabilities is accessible in multiple formats. There’s a free electronic edition that features an interactive church accessibility audit with customized recommendations to improve your accessibility. You can also buy it as a print book, ebook, or audiobook.

She Is Called Women of the Bible Study

This Bible study explores the stories of women in the Bible. The first volume explores nine stories of biblical women and is available both in print and online. The resource is also available in spanish. You can even journey through an online course featuring videos from the authors.

Belhar Confession

The Belhar Confession focuses on three issues of concern to all churches: unity of the church and among people, reconciliation within church and society, and God’s justice. Rooted in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it became an RCA standard of unity in 2009.

Dismantling Racism Prayer Gatherings

Prayer intercessors are warmly welcomed to join us for our bi-monthly dismantling racism prayer gatherings on alternate Tuesdays, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Eastern. 

See upcoming gatherings and RSVP.

We Are Speaking

A call to the church to end harassment, abuse, and sexual violence against women and girls