by Major Katherine Clausell
Displaying courage and conviction last fall, the Central Territory convened a Racial Justice Summit where nearly 1,000 delegates virtually were challenged to be on the forefront of combatting racism, both within our organization and society.
With the aspirational goal of “moving forward together toward diversity, inclusion and anti-racism in the Central Territory,” officers, soldiers and employees returned to their commands to devise a plan with achievable goals and action steps that would serve as a blueprint “to do better” as we strive to achieve God’s ideal of unity.
Each division, the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command and the College for Officer Training wasted no time establishing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees which each were tasked with creating a specific statement for their context and goals to help enable them to hit the target they set with respect to amplifying diversity, equity and inclusion. Here are just a few examples of the many goals and action steps:
• Purposely ensure all boards, councils, committees and divisional events represent our divisional diversity
• Examine and identify policies and procedures within our division that may show certain bias or discriminatory practices in order to ensure our organization is equitable for all people in this area
• Conduct a survey to ascertain all of the division’s officers’ intention, involvement and cultural intelligence on the topic of antiracism/ inclusion, equity, and racial reconciliation
• Set up a trackable system of intentional recruitment of volunteers from minority groups within our communities. We will increase minority volunteer engagement by 20 percent in at least seven of our 21 corps.
• Create two webinar training opportunities for our officers, employees and soldiers this fiscal year and have 25 percent of corps participate. This will move to a yearly goal of four per year in 2022.
It has been exciting to see Salvationists at the local level come together to examine themselves to determine if racism operates in our ministry and take on the difficult task of confronting what surfaced with a view toward devising strategies for dismantling it. This work is paramount.
If the Church, including The Salvation Army, is unable to reach consensus or unite around the issue of racism, I fear our commitment to fulfill both the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19 “…go and make disciples of all nations…”) and The Salvation Army’s mission (“preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet needs in his name without discrimination”) will be compromised severely. However, as a people of faith and hope, we do not lose heart because Jesus has prepared the way for overcoming racism and discrimination.