It’s been two months since we gathered at Uncharted, sang and prayed together, listened deeply to one another, saw and sensed the seeds of the future. We were inspired by Dr. Catherine Meeks and heard her call to be the midwives of the new Church, lest we end up as the morgue attendants of the old. But exactly how do we do this in our faith formation programs? Despite our best intentions, our culture has inculcated harmful biases, hidden in plain sight, that can make our actions not coherent with our words. As Black ELCA pastor Lenny Duncan says, “Throughout my time in seminary, I faced racism and white supremacy from my white peers as they unwittingly re-created the same power structures they were quick to decry in class.”1 This is not a Lutheran problem; it’s a problem that belongs to all of us.
I want to invite you to take a practical next step: subsidized Equity Follow-Up Coaching with Rie Algeo Gilsdorf. This job-embedded professional development will pick up where her Fog on the Lens presentation left off, guiding you to apply your Uncharted learnings in your specific context. You will discover where your culture replicates a dominant discourse that drowns out the voices of the marginalized in what Duncan calls “an orchestra of whiteness.” You will develop new language to build toward a community with “space where hearts can be liberated,” as Dr. Meeks put it. And, you’ll be guided in the messaging of this work to your wider community.
Remaining funds from our Uncharted Gathering contributions give ECMN the capacity to subsidize 50% of the cost for up to 10 dioceses to work with Rie for two hours each. In that time, you will begin an equity audit of policy documents of your choice, including competencies documents, scoring rubrics, curriculum guides, admissions and hiring standards and other guidelines that govern the implementation of your work. Coaching may be structured as two 1-hour sessions or a single 2-hour session, or another configuration that works for your group. And, of course, you may choose to continue with Rie after your subsidized sessions are done.
One participant voiced this question: “Am I the one to start this conversation in my diocese?” Fear not: You’ll talk about that in your first planning call.
How to access your coaching:
- Click the button below to sign up for a free 30-minute planning conversation
- During the planning call, you and Rie will consider which documents will be most fruitful to audit, which key stakeholders should be involved, and what time frame you’ll use for your two coaching hours.
- Once your team is set, you’ll schedule your coaching dates and receive a preparatory assignment.
- Coaching will be via Zoom videoconference, so there will be no additional travel expenses.
- Rie will invoice you directly for your portion of the coaching.
- The cost to your diocese for two hours of coaching would be $150. An additional $150 will be covered by the remaining funds from the Uncharted Gathering.
1 from Dear Church: A love letter from a black preacher to the whitest denomination in the U.S., by Lenny Duncan, Fortress Press, Minneapolis