In September of 2014 all the pastors of Evergreen Baptist Association Churches in the Bay Area received an e-mail from our Executive Minister, Marcia Patton, asking if we would be interested in hosting a Leadership Training by the Kaleidoscope Institute out of Los Angeles. Having read several books by the Kaleidoscope founder Eric Law and having participated in a Kaleidoscope Diversity Training Eric led for the American Baptist Seminary of the West Board, and wanting to support our new region, I replied to Marcia saying that we would be glad to host.
Because the training required a commitment of twenty hours and because it was scheduled for Friday, February 13 and Saturday, February 14, a busy weekend on the church calendar and Valentine’s Day, no less, I thought we would do well to get 4-5 of our leaders to attend. I sent out an email to our staff and seminarians and immediately started receiving “Yes, I will attend” replies. In turn, they started inviting people and by the beginning of the training 12 Lakeshorians and Executive Minister Patten joined 25 representatives of the San Francisco Presbytery and 3 Kaleidoscope Staff in Barnett Hall for a demanding, interesting and helpful two days. Along with Pastor Tanner and me the LABC participants were Paige Bence, Chuck Johnston, Paul Keener, Sandra Lee, Gloria Meads, Charlotte Myers, Karen Okusu, Jesus Portillo, Sheila Sims and Sydney Webster.
At the training we studied practices that address the power inequalities that exist within communities, particularly communities that are diverse. Central to all our learning were these R.E.S.P.E.C.T. communication guidelines:
R = take RESPONSIBILITY for what you say and feel without blaming others
E = use EMPATHETIC listening
S = be SENSITIVE to differences in communication styles
P = PONDER what you hear and feel before you speak
E = EXAMINE your own assumptions and perceptions
C = keep CONFIDENTIALITY
T = TRUST ambiguity, because we are not here to debate who is right or wrong
(The Evergreen Baptist Association has officially committed itself to these guidelines amending C to – share CONSTRUCTIVELY to uphold the well-being of the COMMUNITY)
I asked each Lakeshore participant to share some take-aways from the training. Here are some brief excerpts from what they wrote:
Paige B. – “We learned would help ensure a gracious setting in which everyone’s input was sought, pondered, respected and valued, and those perceived to be powerless would continually be empowered.”
Chuck J. – “I think that these tools could be used by many faith communities to better include the LGBTQ community.”
Paul K. – “My take-aways from the training were the Respectful Communication Guidelines and the techniques of Mutual Invitation, Powerful and Powerless Analysis, Kaleidoscope Bible Study Process and Photolanguage Reflection Process.”
Sandra L. – “My take-away from the training is that listening is just as important as speaking. (If everyone speaks but no one listens, what is the point?)”
Gloria M. – “Don’t neglect the quiet ones.”
Charlotte M. – “Our willingness to cast our nets of inclusion as wide as possible means our interactions with each other must involve conscience and intentional consent.”
Jesus P. – “My take-away from the training is that it is true that we teach best what we need to learn most.”
Sheila S. – “It is important that we validate the input of others especially when their opinions or views do not correspond with our own. So, in essence, be patient, don’t talk over others, and don’t plan what you are going say before you hear them.”
Allison T. – “Never Forget the importance of recognizing power as a tool, and taking responsibility to use it wisely in a way that respects all. Cherish the art of listening and continue to cultivate this skill, both personally and as a teacher.”
Sydney W. – “It is important to allow space for, invite and actively listen to everyone, not just those who speak the loudest and most frequently. Inclusion takes a plan.”
I am proud of our commitment to be a gracious community.