Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Today’s guest is Kelli R. Gibson, a YDS student, who was hired in early May to serve as ECCT’s Racial Justice Resource Coordinator as authorized by Annual Convention 2018. Kelli is a native of New Haven who attended the city's public schools. She completed her undergraduate studies at CCSU with a dual major in psychology and criminology. Currently she is in a Masters of Arts in Religion (MAR) program at Yale Divinity School, with a plan to concentrate in ethics. She's also a part of YDS' Black Church Studies certificate program, with expected graduation dates in 2020. Kelli has work experience in municipal and regional policy administration, sales, group home residential program management, and development consulting. She is the president of the Black Graduate Network at Yale, a leader in New Haven's "Pinky Promise" network, a ministry sponsorship director, a member of New Haven's NAACP Legal Redress Committee, and a New Haven Promise alum.
After reviewing Kelli’s bio, and how the position came into being, Karin asks Kelli what she studies at Yale University. Kelli says she is interested in the intersectionality in trauma, faith, and human flourishing. She just finished up her first year of her two year M.A.R. degree. She is also a part of the Black Church Certificate program at Yale.
Kelli was attracted to the position was the bold language used for the Racial Resource Coordinator and ECCT’s dedication to racial healing, justice, and reconciliation. Kelli says this aligned with her spiritual, moral, and personal values. Karin asks what are resources for this work or what is the scope of resources that could become available from this position. Kelli says when she thinks of resource she thinks of tools — everything in one, to become an essential tool.
However the understanding of what resources are, how to gather them, etc. is still being worked out. Kelli currently is working on a request form that will become available at episcopalct.org.
Kelli says that right now she is the most interested in taking the temperature of the diocese and where parishes are, and seeing where God is and what could be done.
Karin asks if there is a specific order to address Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation. Kelli brought up the important question of “healing for whom?” What audience are we reconciling or healing? Alli points out that there is a tendency to assume that the healing within Racial Healing could be absorbed by individuals waking up to their white privilege and then seeking to be consoled. Kelli says that there needs to be an awakening, yes, but then with that awakening there needs to be a reconciliation, healing, and most importantly a change. The change is essential to the healing of all.
Karin and Alli mention how great a gift it is that Kelli is not an Episcopalian, and has the ability to come in and change what ECCT has been doing. Kelli says that she is not interested in the surface-level things to check off a box, but to shake up the homeostasis.
Alli asks if Kelli is interested in creating resources or finding and using resources are already there. Kelli says it is a combination of both, because some resources that work somewhere else may not work here in Connecticut. Kelli hopes to help build up leaders from the community, and embracing each other as resources.
Alli, Karin, and Kelli then talk about why Kelli is on the Communications team rather than other departments within the diocese. This allows an opportunity to root all communication from the diocese in the lifestyle of Racial Healing, Justice, and Communication, rather than allowing it to become a box to check off.
Kelli mentions the difference between diversity and inclusion: diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. Kelli wants to focus on the intentionality throughout this season and lifestyle.
A year from now, Kelli hopes this will go be a monumental moment that the ground is shifting, and the work continues on. And, to help change the culture of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
Kelli roots her life and work in Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
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