“Racism is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian conviction that all people are made in the image of God and are equal in value. The Salvation Amy believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities.” — The Salvation Army International Positional Statement on Racism
“Welcome Home” was the theme of Commissioning 2018. And during a 2-hour lunch session following the Saturday morning meetings, a group of individuals gathered around tables to discuss one of the most critical issues of our time: race relations. Three presenters, Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson, Major Valerie Carr, and Lt. Xavier Montenegro shared their personal stories and gave reflections on The Salvation Army Positional Statement on Racism. Here are some thoughts shared by our presenters in preparation for the event:
“My experience with Sacred Conversations and the act of opening myself up to the issue of racial equity has really challenged me to learn about the experiences of racism and its effects on the people around me. What I have learned has lead me to ask hard questions: What effect has racial privilege had on my own ministry? Am I willing to listen to the experiences of my brothers and sisters in Christ and change so that I might find ways to be a more effective messenger of the Gospel of love and justice?” — Major Valerie Carr
“When I think of Sacred Conversations, I’m drawn to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. King commented, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.” With that context of self-awareness, Gandhi challenges me with his words, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson
“I’m looking forward to having an important conversation on race during commissioning weekend and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share what’s on my heart. Racism and systemic injustice continue to be salient issues within the Central Territory and addressing them begins with conversations such as these. These talks are never easy, but as brothers and sisters in Christ we must discuss and hear from those within our family that are hurting and ultimately be moved to do something about it. When someone in our family is suffering, we act.” — Captain Xavier Montenegro
Each person attending the event left with a revised Sacred Conversation Resource Guide – a “starter” for beginning the conversation around race, culture and reconciliation. We are so grateful for the rich conversation that took place around the tables and for the special presentations.