Racial Equity and Justice Newsletter

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lutheran social ministry organizations are known for quality, compassionate care and for enabling people from children to seniors, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, veterans and more to live a full life with dignity and respect. By coming together and bringing national partners and stakeholders to the table, we gain new skills, perspectives, and ways of engaging community partners to create exponentially better outcomes for people. A crucial piece of this ongoing work is tackling systemic racism.

This Racial Equity and Justice Newsletter is a resource for sharing information and opportunities related to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Lutheran Services in America network. If you would like to submit resources or have questions, please contact Caitlyn Gudmundsen.

On Monday, we remembered and honored the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In gratitude for his life of service, may we faithfully seek justice and equity, remembering that, as MLK taught us, "The time is always right to do what is right."

In This Newsletter

LSA's Commitment to Racial Equity

The Network's Actions to Promote Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Spotlight on a Member: Inspiritus

Our Commitment

As a faith-based organization, one called to do this work, our team at Lutheran Services in America continues to recognize and act upon the need to eliminate systemic racism in the U.S. In so doing, we will continue to help reverse systemic racism's toll on the health and well-being of people of color and their communities. As Desmond Tutu noted “Reconciliation is really the heart of the Gospel message…Christians have no option. In the face of racism they must stand up and be counted as part of a determined and passionate opposition. Not to oppose this evil is indeed to disobey God.”

Existing disparities highlight how systemic racism directly affects the foundations of wellness for communities of color. We and our 300+ Lutheran social ministry organizations see evidence of this every day in our work with children, youth and families, seniors, the homeless, and people with disabilities. Systemic racism must have no home or acceptance. It is a public health crisis, one which we are committed to helping correct.

Read our Statement on Equity and Unity from Lutheran Services in America President and CEO Charlotte Haberaecker here.

Along with our peers in the non-profit community, Lutheran Services in America signed onto the Statement of Guiding Principles to Advance Racial Equity and Justice. Read the statement here

Our Network's Actions

Advocacy Platform Focuses on Racial Equity

With each new Congress, Lutheran Services in America crafts an advocacy platform that outlines the legislative priorities for our network. The 2021 Advocacy Platform is rooted in our commitment to strive for greater racial equity and diversity, and includes ensuring equitable health outcomes for all through priorities such as maintaining and increasing Medicaid and Medicare funding, decriminalizing homelessness, and achieving equitable treatment for COVID-19.

For questions about the Lutheran Services in America Advocacy Platform, contact Sarah Dobson.

Visit the Racial Equity Resources Page

We invite you to visit our regularly updated Racial Equity Resources page, which includes tools for collaborative discussion, books being read by members in the network, and other educational resources for exploring systemic racism. Read more here.

If you would like to add recommended resources to this library, please contact Caitlyn Gudmundsen.

The Newly Formed Race Equity Network

The Race Equity Network is a Lutheran Services in America group that formed in response to renewed calls for racial justice in the summer of 2020. Representatives from more than 25 Lutheran social ministry organizations meet quarterly to discuss how to support the network in efforts to promote racial diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as to inform the national policy agenda on issues that affect racial equity. As part of the group's efforts, a survey will soon be launched to gain a baseline understanding of existing diversity and equity efforts within the network. The group will use what it learns from that survey to tailor future programming and resources for the network, as well as measure progress. 

The Mission Leaders Group Focuses on Diversity in 2021

The Mission Leaders Group is a Lutheran Services in America affinity group comprised of leaders from our member organizations who act as champions of their organization’s faith-based mission. In recent months, the Mission Leaders have discussed strategies to increase diversity, as well as equity and inclusivity. The Mission Leaders have committed to a year-long effort to understand diversity within their own social ministry organizations, and lead productive conversations about systemic racism among their colleagues.

The Results Innovation Lab's New Initiatives Centered on Race Equity

Our Results Innovation Lab has race equity at its core with a bold goal to create equitable outcomes for 20,000 children and youth by 2024. Participants in the Lab have already improved the lives of over 7,000 youth. Importantly, this initiative disaggregates data by race to reveal a clearer understanding of where inequities lie and trains leaders in how to transform programs and systems to address those inequities and how to achieve exponential improvements in equitable outcomes.

We recently launched four major initiatives in the Results Innovation Lab:

  1. the Results Network where we work with 13 of our member organizations to address what it will take to stabilize families in their communities, so families can remain intact and children do not need to be removed from their family
  2. the Congregate Care Initiative to improve equitable outcomes and permanency for children in congregate care, develop more community-based resources for children, and reduce the number of children in congregate care
  3. Participatory Research to gather feedback to better understand how to strengthen families in times of crisis and establish trust across the system with the goal that all children are safe and well
  4. Family Stabilization initiative to prevent trauma and adverse outcomes for children by expanding community-based solutions and interventions for families in crisis.

Strength and Service Series Brings the Network Together in Conversation

The Strength & Service Series provides space for ongoing discussion where thought leaders and panelists share experiences tied to becoming an anti-racist organization through open dialogue. Participants from our national network discuss critically related topics such as engaging community partners to dismantle racism and addressing organizations’ role in systemic racism – all geared toward capturing a more thorough and actionable understanding of concrete steps needed to eliminate systemic racism.

Keep an eye out for new webinars in the Strength and Service Series in 2021 on topics including educating your organization's board of directors on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. View the recording from the October 2020 "Becoming an Anti-racist Organization" webinar here

Upcoming Webinar:
Feb. 10: 2-2:45 pm EST 

Crisis Fatigue in the Workforce: A Conversation with Dr. Christine Cauffield

People living in the U.S. are grappling with long-term attacks to their psyche. Just in the last year, we have witnessed race-based violence, a global pandemic, mass unemployment, and political and social unrest. What are some of the ways leaders, themselves exhausted, can best support employees suffering from crisis fatigue? Join us for a webinar with Chief Executive Officer of LSF Health Systems, Dr. Christine Cauffield – who has worked with leaders in police, healthcare, child welfare and others to address the impact of mental health in their own organizations. Register here.

CEO Summit Series: 2020-2021 Includes a Conversation on Workforce Diversity and Equity

The CEO Summit Series: 2020-2021 two-part seminar on January 19 and January 26, 2021 is entitled, "Workforce: Reimagining Your Most Trusted Assets." The January 19 seminar included a candid discussion about how one social ministry organization in the network came to understand the need for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion among its workforce, and the next steps in its journey toward becoming more equitable. On January 26, we will hear from experts about supporting the workforce through the ongoing trauma of the pandemic, which disproportionately affects people of color. 

Spotlight on a Member

In 2020, Inspiritus was joined virtually by Reverend Ronald S. Bonner, Associate Pastor for Community Engagement at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Georgia. Reverend Bonner offered a presentation that helped align Inspiritus staff on vocabulary relating to race and debunked the notion that having difficult conversations about race and racism necessarily causes uneasiness. Reverend Bonner is scheduled to work with the executive team at Inspiritus for nine months in 2021 and will help leaders better support and develop those who work under their supervision by understanding the racial context. The program will improve relationships and increase productivity up and down and laterally scythe organization. As a result, the organization will make progress toward becoming a culturally healthy place to work.