“APCE as an organization has been engaged in a struggle . . . to embody as well as teach about justice and equity to both the wider Church and through the Church to society as a whole.” Gordon Brown, APCE Diversity Task Force member

But first APCE itself must engage in this work, to that end we affirm:

We, the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, value faith formation for all ages, stages, and walks of life. As we continue to learn and grow as baptized people, we acknowledge a lack of diversity in our organization. As followers of Jesus Christ, we admit we fall short in acting upon what we hear, not listening to all voices at the table. We acknowledge that our actions, both implicit and explicit, have stifled these voices long silenced. Jesus calls us to inclusiveness, which we seek to embody as we wrestle with how to achieve diversity, equity, and justice.

  • We define diversity as creating and preserving a place at the table for all of God’s children regardless of color and its racialization, gender and/or sexual identity, ability, denomination, economic circumstance, culture, nationality, or other barriers to participation.
  • We define equity as the good fruits of God’s intention, striving to bring special attention to those who have traditionally been treated unequally and unjustly.
  • We define justice as giving support and comfort to the “least of these” – the outsiders, the powerless, and the voiceless.

“It is not enough to make statements, although statements . . . are a necessary starting point. But the effort is one of taking these statements and living into them, embodying them. . . .This work of embodiment is hard work.” Gordon Brown, APCE Diversity Task Force member

The work of embodiment requires both confession and an attitude of humility. We need to recognize that our claim, in fact our heartfelt belief, that we are “good people” does not absolve our complicity in a system that privileges and welcomes some at the expense and exclusion of others. To help us understand who we have been, who we continue to be, and who God is calling us to become, we must wrestle with some fundamental questions.

Do we…

  • center the white, straight, cis-gender, affluent, abled, affluent, big church experience?
  • assume that our values are the values of all God’s beloved?
  • default to white ways of programming, communicating, and structuring?
  • expect people of color to teach us instead of doing the work for ourselves?
  • engage in cultural appropriation?
  • check the inclusion boxes without examining how our practices exclude?
  • turn away from challenges, because they hurt or offend us?
  • reinforce ways of being church that require affluence?
  • remain blinded to who we are and how we behave?
  • recognize that “the way we have always done it” might be the problem?
  • explore other ways of doing and being?
  • truly listen?

Reflecting upon and honestly reckoning with the answers is essential to our success in becoming more just, equitable, and diverse.

“[this] is the work of the organization as a whole, not [just] the Diversity Task Force or . . . the Leadership Council. It is the work of all.” Gordon Brown, APCE Diversity Task Force member

To that end, APCE in partnership with the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PC(USA) is excited to provide to all members a series of webinars produced for us by Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training.

Webinar 1: What is systemic racism?

Webinar 2: What is white supremacy? AND What are its values?

Webinar 3: How does Christian education uphold white dominant values and stifle racial justice work?

Webinar 4: Why must Christians be equipped to speak against white supremacy?

Webinar 5: What is antiracism and what does it require of Christian?

Webinar 6: Why must Christian Educators invest in the cultivation of values that challenge white supremacy?

Webinar 7: How to talk to Children and Youth about systemic racism?

Webinar 8: How might the frame and goals of Anti-Bias Antiracism Education strengthen faith formation?

Access these webinars at: https://apcenet.org/crossroads-antiracism-organizing-and-training/

The APCE Diversity Task Force is committed to this effort. We invite you to join us in this kin-dom work.

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Susan Young Thornton

has served congregations in the Presbytery of Los Ranchos for over 30 years with a focus on education, nurture and formation. She reads widely in spiritual formation, theology, social justice, church history, and current and future trends. Her work includes recommending resources, consulting with congregations on evaluation, design and implementation, supporting and equipping leaders, and building relationships with and among persons engaged in ministries of spiritual formation. She is the current Moderator of the APCE Diversity Task Force.