This past Saturday, a group of about 40 folks—young and less young, non-white and white, heterosexual and homosexual, female and male, all affiliated in one way or the other with Cathedral of Hope— crammed into a tiny meeting room to learn about diversity, the concept of intersectionality, and why it all matters and affects (and effects) who we are. The workshop was led by Sandhya Jha (@pastorsandhya) who provided us with a “crash course” of her 3-day diversity workshop.
With openness, love, and a great deal of vulnerability, we shared, exchanged ideas, and dreamed about a future where everyone was welcome and included…where we each individually welcomed and included everyone.
Many of us were confronted with new realities while others of us grappled with all-too-familiar ones. Some of us sat momentarily dazed by truths we’d never before considered. Others of us spoke from injured hearts. Many of us winced at some of the revelations. And there was a lot of head-nodding.
By the end of our brief time together, we hadn’t solved the issues.
We didn’t determine the magic formula to make ourselves and our church more diverse.
But we got a glimpse.
With reflection on the past, we named our challenges.
We admitted our own contributions to the deficit
We committed ourselves to a more diverse future.
Here are a few of the observations shared with me from that morning:
- Forget the labels. Focus on God.
- Creating our own intersectionality charts…started me thinking….
- [We should] reach out to the younger generation in the manner in which they communicate…
- …Listen for content without attempting to defend…
- …Reclaim Christianity as a faith of extravagant grace, radical inclusion and relentless compassion.
- Pray that all of our hearts, minds & spirits are open to that truth. Speak your mind and heart. We need everyone’s perspective.
- Acknowledge that we all come with baggage and instead of trying to unpack it all and compartmentalize everything, accept and celebrate what is and identifying areas of needed change.
- BE the change we want to see not only in our church, but in the world.
- Don’t feel the need to repair or repaint our past, our pictures, our stories. Instead, focus on adding new stories to our biography and new vibrant colors to our tapestry.
- While honoring our differences–respecting, listening, being convicted by — we are also 99.7% the same…I mean, at our level of DNA, we are alike…we share the planet, life, biology, the fact of our emotions, how we are all in need of compassion…
- “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
- Diversity should be celebrated, not ignored. While we have a common spiritual (and biological) heritage, don’t be “colorblind” or “post-racial” but seek to understand and thereby celebrate our differences. This theme of loving celebration will serve as an oasis and magnet to a world thirsty for reconciliation and love.
I left that seminar hopeful, believing that those of us of considered privileged were moved to commit themselves to greater action and aware of the greater responsibility we bear, while the aged, the straight, the non-white, and anyone who had ever felt marginalized or overlooked experienced renewed hope and vigor.
Cathedral of Hope has so much to offer—both our community and the entire world. And, living with a perspective of abundance, I know that soon, there will be no way our seemingly vast sanctuary will be able to hold the people who desire to find and make their home at CoH if we do this work.
…or be able to count the hearts and minds and souls we can affect in the process.
Quoting a favorite spiritual leader of mine:
“Hallelujah and amen.”