News from the Commission on Dismantling Racism
by Kurt Greenbaum,
Commission leadership team member
Updates on the Commission on Dismantling Racism
What’s up with this long-serving body of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri?
The start of the new year brings an update on the work of the Commission on Dismantling Racism — a diocesan group charged with promoting programs, workshops and other anti-racism work among the people of the church.
Perhaps the biggest news is the retirement of the Rev. Chester Hines from the leadership of the commission after serving in leadership for 40 years. Some may know Bishop Deon Johnson celebrated Chester’s ministry with a Bishop’s Medal during the diocesan convention in November. The commission also recognized his work at its annual celebration event in December and heard his reflections on the work during its first regular meeting of 2022 on Jan. 8.
Leadership transition begins
At the December meeting, Bishop Deon also announced a new four-member leadership team for the commission, along with his wish that the commission center its work around four core pillars:
- Formation: Teaching and training opportunities in parishes and the diocese at large.
- Programming: Events and other activities to engage with the community.
- Visioning: Where are we doing and where should we be going as a ministry?
- Witness: When and how should the diocese make a public witness?
A strategic planning process
The leadership team for the commission now includes the Rev. Aaron Rogers, associate to the rector at Trinity Episcopal Church, Central West End; the Rev. Shug Goodlow, assistant rector at St. Martin’s, Ellisville and diocesan missioner for reconciliation and justice; Harrison Hagan Heil from The Church of St. Michael & St. George; and Kurt Greenbaum, most recently from St. John’s Tower Grove.
The team is commencing a strategic planning process at the next regular meeting of the commission on Feb. 5 at 10 a.m. Here are a few notes about that process:
Hearing from the diocese. The commission leadership will be inviting feedback from members of the commission and, more broadly, members of the diocese. What issues should the commission tackle? What are the gaps? What opportunities exist for the commission to facilitate social justice work within the parishes? We expect to begin that process Feb. 5 and continue it at the March and April commission meetings, as well as additional listening sessions that are yet to be scheduled.
Drafting a plan. By May 1, based on that input and existing imperatives laid out in the 2021 diocesan strategic visioning process, the team expects to draft goals and strategies for the commission for the coming year.
Structure and accountability. The leadership team will also be working to regularly communicate progress on these plans, as well as a process for holding the commission accountable for carrying out its goals.
As the new leadership team hits the ground running, the foursome is essentially building the airplane while they fly it. That is, the process for planning is being created while the planning itself begins. The leadership team is open to individual conversations about the process or to gather feedback on next steps. For more information or to share your feedback, please contact [email protected].
The commission meets regularly from 10 a.m. till noon on the first Saturday of the month (unless rescheduled by a holiday). All are welcome. Read more on the diocesan website, which includes a Zoom link to the monthly meeting.