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On June 22 and 23, AHCC offered Social Justice Leadership training for church staff, deacons and selected key volunteers. We had nearly 60 people complete the training. Our intention was to offer a leadership training experience that would allow us, individually or collectively, to identify what institutional bias is, to recognize institutional racism and other bias when it is happening in our midst, and to develop some common vocabulary for calling one another’s attention to it so we can work together to correct it.

After a considerable vetting process, we were pleased to be able to use the program offered by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) located in Windsor, CT, with whom we look forward to having an ongoing relationship. On the Sunday following the training, five participants volunteered to share learnings and reflections on a panel to which everyone was invited. Many of our leaders shared how much they appreciated the training experience, and how they are looking forward to implementing what we learned in the year ahead – not only in our work here at church, but also in our lives. This is a collaborative project, one we can manage, but likely not solve in our lifetimes. We are grateful to have companions here at church to hold us accountable, whom we can encourage and who will encourage us in making a difference – welcoming and making a place here for all of God’s children.

Next steps will include offering additional trainings in the year ahead, and exploring youth programming.

Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack  of actions. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since then it is no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.  Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate  protection for changelessness. - Audre Lorde