by Major Katherine Clausell, Social Justice and Urban Mission Secretary
Imagine if The Salvation Army, working intentionally to model and amplify diversity, equity and inclusion, became a place where what is envisioned in Revelation chapters 5 and 7 starts happening now, not just when Christ returns. What a glorious sight that would be!
I penned these thoughts in January as part of an article for the February/ March 2020 edition of the Army’s online Journal of Aggressive Christianity. I didn’t know that in just a few months our world would be turned upside down by two significant events. The first was the global pandemic which brought to light significant disparities in our healthcare system for people of color. The second was the murder of George Floyd which captured on video gave credence to the belief that people of color, particularly black people, are systemically discriminated against.
While not shocking to most people of African heritage, white Americans have awakened to the realities of racial injustice and are expressing their outrage. Salvationists in the Central Territory even took to the streets of Minneapolis, Minn., as witnesses for Jesus and to declare the killing of George Floyd—and too many others who’ve had their lives taken due to racism and abuse of power—wrong.
As we continue to deal with the disruption and threat to our lives due to COVID-19, what should The Salvation Army’s response be to the realities of racism? Following the prayer event in Minneapolis, the territory’s leaders have decided to hold a summit to uncover past and present realities regarding systemic racism, no matter how uncomfortable, and to articulate a clear and decisive plan and course of action that will lead toward mutual understanding, respect and reconciliation. The primary goal is to advance a more inclusive and vibrant Army that reflects “unified diversity” as seen in the Trinity.
The Racial Justice Summit will take place October 26-27, 2020, at Territorial Headquarters where 50 selected delegates (officers, soldiers and employees) will contend with issues related to racial injustice with a view toward correcting wrongs and moving forward in solidarity.
Some of the meetings of this historic event will be livestreamed, and you are invited to view them at salvationarmymedia.org. Jesus said the world will know the Father has sent the Son because of the witness of unity we have with one another (John 17:23). We can be sure this is still Jesus’ prayer for The Salvation Army today.