November 15, 2021
Beginning to Talk About Race
Earlier this year, our Board of Directors adopted the “ECF Compass” – a rearticulation of our Purpose, Mission and Vision. This document also highlights who we are, what we do and how we do it. In addition to describing ourselves as Episcopal, Independent and Lay-led, we also state that ECF is inclusive, i.e, “we are anti-racist and committed to social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.”
While the process does involve an important missional and strategic conversation, it is fairly easy for an organization to make bold statements about who it is or hopes to be. The challenge becomes whether these articulations are more aspirational than actual. When it comes to being Episcopal, Independent and Lay-led, ECF has a long track record of demonstrating and living out these core qualities of our identity. When it comes to being Inclusive, or more specifically Anti-Racist, we have a much longer way to go. Clearly, our commitment in this area is aspirational but, at the same time, very sincere.
So how can ECF become more inclusive and anti-racist? First, by recognizing and admitting that racism, white supremacy, and inequality exist in our society, our church and even in our own organization.
This past summer, the entire ECF staff participated in a two part Virtual Anti-Racism Training conducted and facilitated by PR(ism) Resource Coalition and Diversity Talks. This interactive series was designed to provide our staff with shared language on how to move toward anti-racist practices and implementation in our personal and professional lives. The workshops offered us meaningful learning and reflection opportunities while issuing a clear call to action for those of us upholding current systems of white supremacy. In Part I, for example, we explored the social construct of race, recognized and examined our privilege in society based on the intersectionality of our identities. and examined the impact of systemic racism. In Part II, we explored the difference between being non-racist and actively anti-racist and began to examine specific action steps for accountability in these areas. The sessions were informative, provocative, challenging and yes, uncomfortable. All of us, both white folks and people of color, felt better equipped to recognize the need to actively dismantle inequitable systems and move towards collective action.
ECF’s staff training was one small but important step in our process of becoming an anti-racist organization. We acknowledge that we have a lot more work to do. At its recent meeting, the ECF board of directors adopted “Innovation 2022” - our Road Map going forward. In this latest strategic document, ECF has committed to prioritizing racial justice in every aspect of our ministry, strive to become a diverse and anti-racist organization, and actively amplify the concerns and voices of people of color, to manifest the wholeness of the Body of Christ. Once again – this is another bold aspirational statement that will take a lot of hard work to implement. But ECF is ready and willing to take on this challenge.
As followers of Jesus and faithful Episcopalians, I encourage all of us to actively engage in the important work of anti-racism and racial justice and reconciliation. I hope and pray that this process may lead to a fairer and more just society and move all of us little bit closer to God’s kingdom here on earth.