The Unite Table advances the Minneapolis Area Synod’s racial justice efforts through a variety of activities with synod committees and congregations.
On this page you will find information on the table, the focus of our work, and some general resources. For dates of upcoming Racial Justice Liaison gatherings, please see the synod calendar or like us on Facebook where you will also find articles and resources posted on a more regular basis.
History and Charter
The Unite Table grew out of an ad hoc working group formed in 2008 and became an official table within the synod structure by action of the synod assembly in 2012. That action enacted the charter by which the table’s activities are structured and guided.
The Unite Table shall facilitate a process for the Minneapolis Area Synod to identify & implement goals, strategies & tactics for:
- Increasing racial diversity,
- Addressing institutional racism within synod structures, and
- Measuring and evaluating progress (on goals) and effectiveness (of strategies and tactics).
Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)
The Intercultural Development Inventory is a tool used by our Unite Table in working with leadership, staff, congregations and individuals in growing their awareness and agility in understanding and navigating cultural difference and commonality. This tool and the subsequent training is designed to develop and grow intercultural competence. Intercultural competence is defined as the capability to accurately understand and adapt behavior to cultural difference and commonality.
We use this tool to provide individuals, teams and staff with a framework for their developmental work in gaining cultural competence. The assessment provides a baseline and starting point for this work and helps identify developmentally appropriate learning and interventions.
In the last book of the Bible John shares a vision of God’s new kingdom coming to earth. In that vision he sees “the glory of the nations (ethnos)” being brought into the presence of God. God’s kingdom is one where every good thing about every ethos (people group) is fully present. As people of God, we are called to be a part of bringing this multicultural kingdom into existence on earth, but to do that we need to be able to navigate cultural difference and similarity. This navigation is called cultural competence and it is our goal when we work with congregations with the Intercultural Development Inventory.
We begin this work (with congregations or teams) by having a discussion around goals and desired outcomes. We then help to identify a few leaders within the team or congregation to take the IDI and begin a learning journey together. Six to nine months after this initial group has embarked on this path we debrief and consider strategic plans for rolling the tool out to larger leadership groups like councils or ministry teams. After these larger teams have gone through the IDI assessment, learning plans and development work we revisit the desired goals and outcomes roughly nine to twelve months later.
The Minneapolis Area Synod has Intercultural Development Inventory qualified administrators who are trained to perform the IDI assessments and give group and individual feedback while working with congregational and synodical leadership in developing cultural competence. Securing this type of training with an outside consultant or contracted training professional in the marketplace would cost upwards of $200 per participant. Because we have our own qualified administrators we can do it at a significantly lower cost.
Congregational Racial Justice Liaisons
In order to support the work of congregational racial justice liaisons and teams, the Unite Table hosts bi-monthly liaison gatherings. Usually held on Monday evenings at University Lutheran Church of Hope, the liaison gatherings provide time for listening to guest and peer speakers, networking, education, and resource sharing about a range of issues and approaches in congregational racial justice work. You can find upcoming dates on the synod calendar or the Unite Table Facebook page.
The Congregational Racial Justice Liaison will:
- Serve as the primary congregational connection to the racial justice work of the Minneapolis Area Synod. This work is coordinated by the synod’s Unite Table and the Racial Justice Organizer staff person.
- Receive synod communications around racial justice and share this information with pastors, leaders and congregation members.
- Encourage your congregation to develop a racial justice mission statement that reflects your cultural and racial commitments in your local context.
- Attend occasional trainings (two to three times yearly) provided by the synod to equip and empower racial justice liaisons and congregational racial justice teams.
- As opportunities arise, facilitate conversations within your congregation about racial justice matters.
The Racial Justice Liaison’s length of service may be determined by each congregation, but a minimum of two years is recommended.
Racial Justice Resources
These resources are a small sampling of what is available and just a way to get started. We provide a list “Picks of the Year” resource list at Synod Assembly (view the 2018 resources) and regularly post resources on our Facebook page.
- Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture (ELCA Social Statement adopted in 1993)
- Study Guide accompaniment to Freed in Christ Social Statement
- The ELCA web site’s racial justice resource page
- Vital Conversations includes videos and resources from the United Methodist Church’s
- General Commission on Religion and Race
- The Racism Contradicts Christianity Podcasts are four video interviews by Rev. Dr. Joan Harrell with progressive Christian leaders
- The Storytelling Project is a free pdf curriculum from Barnard College that uses the examination and telling of stories to delve into personal experience of race and racism
- The Equal Justice Initiative web site provides interactive and educational resources documenting the history of racial terror lynchings in the United States. (May be helpful to pair with reading James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree.)
- We Talk. We Listen.: Conversations about Diversity is a blog curated by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago which includes many posts about racial justice, as well as other topics.