Some Clarity and a Hope for More

Yesterday, Harry Reeder and I spoke for nearly an hour on the phone discussing an article Reformed Margins posted last week.

The conversation was cordial, thoughtful, and friendly.

The contents of that conversation are private but I will say this: I left the conversation encouraged and hopeful that Rev. Reeder supports the voices of ethnic minorities in the Reformed tradition and that he is willing to listen to the concerns of minorities troubled by some of his speaking engagements. I pray that this will lead to more public and private conversations about how we can make the Reformed Tradition more welcoming to people of color.

Some notes that I feel free to share:

Later this week, his podcast and radio program “Today in Perspective” will feature a discussion of the reason the Civil War was fought. Reeder’s final answer: slavery. This is encouraging especially in light of President Trump’s recent ridiculous remarks.

I encouraged Rev. Reeder to repudiate the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the racist ideologies they promote. Reeder informed me that, in the next week or two, he will post an article explaining his methodology and the content of his speeches to historical societies. My understanding is that this article will also include a repudiation of any attempt to use his work to promote racist ideologies.

Until the podcast and article are released, I’m not sure it would be wise to say much else. So for now, I will simply say that I am grateful that Rev. Reeder took the time to speak with me and for his willingness to listen to my concerns, and respond publicly in the next couple of weeks.

We have not heard back from Westminster Theological Seminary, The Gospel Coalition, or Reformed Theological Seminary. It is important that the Reformed tradition unequivocally express its support for people of color, recognize the valuable voices of black, Latino, Asian, and First Nation brothers and sisters, and that Reformed spaces go out of their way to be places of welcome for ethnic minorities. Perhaps these organizations don’t feel the need to make such a statement. I hope, however, that they take the opportunity to emphasize their commitment to diversity within the Reformed Tradition.

If these institutions remain silent, I believe they will have missed an opportunity to show that they care about this conversation and are willing to listen to people of color. Perhaps we will still hear from them.

As more information comes to light, we will comment. Until then, we look forward to hearing what Rev. Reeder has to say.

Marcos Ortega

Marcos Ortega (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is an Assistant Pastor at Goodwill Church (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) and lives in the Hudson River Valley in New York with his wife and two daughters.

5 thoughts on “Some Clarity and a Hope for More

  • May 4, 2017 at 6:30 am

    As a frequenter of Reformed Conferences, it is obvious that the “movement” as a whole are working hard to include minorities—E.g. The Shepherds’ Conference this year included H.B. Charles Jr., Conrad Mbewe, and Miguel Nunez – 23% of the keynote addresses. A similar proportion spoke at The Gospel Coalition conference this year. As a Reformed publisher, our own contributions include these two titles:
    Tell us how we can help . . .

    • May 4, 2017 at 7:08 am

      Hi Ian,

      Thank you for responding.

      There has certainly been a shift in the Reformed Tradition over the last few years to create space for minorities. We celebrate that! In fact, our site exists because we have been emboldened by organizations like the Reformed African American Network and The Gospel Coalition.

      Conferences are also beginning to shift in a more welcoming direction. The Shepherd’s Conference was actually better than most I’ve seen advertised. The latest TGC conference only featured one ethnic minority among the 9 plenary speakers, the same for last year’s T4G conference, which featured one in ten plenary spots (coincidentally the same speaker). This from the organization who have helped pushed conversations of race and ethnicity forward.

      I would be remiss to ignore Eric Mason’s Thriving conference in Philadelphia and the Legacy conference in Chicago. Can more of these conferences that highlight the voices and perspectives of people of color get the funding to move forward?

      Also, recently Ligonier (who is one of the most influential Reformed organizations in the country) launched a 24 hour internet radio station filled with powerfully preaching, Scripture reading, reflections from Valley of Vision, readings from the Westminster standards, etc. Looking at their schedule, there is not a single ethnic minority included during any portion of that 24 hour, 7-day-a-week schedule.

      I don’t know how PRP works. I’m grateful for the two books you do have among your titles. Are there up and coming authors of color that PRP would seek out and shepherd into the world of publishing? For a tradition with many Asian-American brothers and sisters, why do we see so few Asian-American authors featured by reformed publications and publishers? Are there topics from authors of color that have been previously considered off-limits or “too controversial” that PRP would consider promoting?

      There is a unique challenge with Latino authors in the Reformed tradition, of course. There simply aren’t that many of us. When the pool is shrunk to Latinos in Presbyterian and Dutch traditions, there are even fewer. Yet this is the largest minority group in the country! How are Reformed seminaries and denominations thoughtfully engaging Latinos with the Gospel so that the Reformed tradition becomes a viable option for them? Are reformed seminaries providing scholarships for black and Latino students who might otherwise enter the seminaries of other traditions (I know RTS has begun doing good work here).

      These are big questions that no one can answer in the comment section of a blog post. I believe thing are much better today than they were. But there is a long way to go. Our goal as a site is to be a part of moving in a positive direction. We aren’t here to throw mud or burn things to the ground. And we want to affirm and celebration where progress has been made. If we can be a voice for more progress and more representation for ethnic minorities, we will.

      I’m always open to more questions! I hope these answers help continue the conversation.

      Thank you for the work you do! I’ve enjoyed many of PRP’s titles.


  • April 25, 2018 at 11:36 am

    This is back in the news again. Unfortunately. You mentioned that Dr Reeder promised a follow up podcast and article. Was that every published? If so, where?

    • April 26, 2018 at 6:13 am

      Hi Ewan,

      We’ve seen that it’s back in the news. In reaction to this latest controversy, Harry Reeder posted this article on his personal blog:

      He promised an article or podcast about this issue last year, but we have not seen either. While it is entirely possible we missed it, we are not aware of him addressing last year’s controversy in any public manner.

      We are currently praying about whether or not we will comment on the current controversy. For now, it is enough to say that any celebration of the Confederacy is deeply problematic and I am concerned and angered about how it reflects on Christ’s church.

      Thanks for reaching out.

  • Pingback:I Would Get Brought Up On Charges - Reformed Margins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.