Synod Partners with Gold Enterprises for Racial Equity Audit

Group 236

Dear Siblings in Christ,

I’m excited to share with you an update regarding the synod’s commitment, as part of the Synod Council’s Plan for Racial Justice, to conduct a racial equity audit.  The goals of the audit are to:

  1. review internal systems for bias and inequitable outcomes;
  2. propose changes that are more likely to yield equitable results; and
  3. identify barriers to achieving equity, including instances in which our polity makes change more difficult.

Our desire to engage in this process is rooted in our belief that the Church can – and indeed must – be a leader in the holy work to become an anti-racist society.  A society in which our relationships and our policies are built on – and allow – equity for all.

After being blessed with several faithful proposals and interviewing multiple candidates and organizations, we are pleased to announce that we truly found the “dream team” to partner with in Gold Enterprises LLC.

Gold Enterprises is an independent, 100% woman- and minority-owned consulting firm founded in 2016.  For this project, Gold Enterprises brought together a team of experts who will utilize their specialties – from facilitating dialogues to survey methodology and strategic planning – to help us navigate each stage of the year-long process.

I’m excited about our partnership with Gold Enterprises for three reasons:

  1. This team is highly qualified, experienced, AND they understand our context – both geographically as being in and around our nation’s capital, as well as being people of faith themselves (including two ordained ministers) who have worked with religious organizations extensively.  They understand our structure, our hang-ups, and most importantly, our motivation to share God’s love with every single person we encounter.  They will be able to dive in immediately and see us for who we are and help us accomplish our goal of moving toward being an anti-racist synod.
  2. Their plan of action is both realistic and methodical.  They have proposed a work plan that will efficiently get to the heart of who we are and help us become who we want to be.  To accomplish this, they will implement elements of change management and organizational development.
  3. They give me hope that through our work this year, we will come out the other side being more aware of ourselves, of our obstacles, and of the changes we absolutely can make to be a fully inclusive organization.

This work will not be easy.  I know, and the synod council knows, how difficult it will be to hold a mirror up to ourselves, to allow someone else to ask questions about who we are as a synod and to examine the ways in which we operate and why.  We are beginning a journey knowing that to accomplish our goal we will have to make changes.  That is what it means to be vulnerable.  It will be hard and uncomfortable at times.  That is okay.  This is where the work of loving ourselves, loving our community, and loving God can really bear fruit.

As we spend the next year or so with Gold Enterprises, we will share updates on the synod website and through the synod email newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.  You can expect to hear where we are in the process, which includes four phases:

Phase 1:  A deep dive into our governing documents and day-to-day operations (currently underway);

Phase 2:  An invitation to rostered ministers and lay leaders to share their perspective and experiences by participating in a survey;

Phase 3:  Facilitated dialogues and interviews with individuals and groups within the synod; and

Phase 4:  Strategic planning for the future to implement change that is sustainable and will ensure continuous growth and development.

The strategic plan will leave us in a place where we have a better understanding of who we are – and not just who we say we are – and we will have an action plan for how to ensure continuous growth and development.

If you are interested in preparing your heart and mind for this process, the synod and the Racial Equity Team offer a number of resources.  Look for a regularly updated list of resources on our website, and access the synod’s coaching resources here.  I would also like to highlight a few resources that have meant a lot to me on my personal journey.

  1. Sacred Ground series offered by the Racial Equity Team These sessions gave me time to explore a wide range of racial justice issues while examining my own history and family stories.  It is well worth the time to dive into these issues alongside an amazing group of friends and colleagues from around the synod.
  2. My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem This book explores the impact of racial trauma on bodies of all colors and races.  I especially appreciated the tangible body and breathing exercises offered as a way to heal this trauma.
  3. Stamped (for kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi A fantastic resource for elementary school kids and their families to explore together; this book provides historical context that is engaging and digestible.  There are also versions of this book for older kids and for adults.

As you explore any of these resources, I invite you to be curious.  Be intentional about listening to Black, Indigenous, and people of color when they share their experiences.  Believe them.  Reflect on what they are saying.  Be open to acknowledging where we, as humans, have failed, and reach for ways to live more fully into our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves.

This is an exciting time.  A time of growth and renewal.  There will be regular updates on our website and I look forward to providing you a live update on this process when we meet in June for our 2022 synod assembly.  Until then, please hold Gold Enterprises and our synod in your prayers – that we may open ourselves up to new ways of thinking and being that will enable us to be a fully inclusive expression of God’s love on Earth.

God’s peace to you.  Now let us begin.

Jennifer A. Slagle Peck

Vice President

Metro D.C. Synod Council