Several months ago Tamara Grossett and I began to assemble a team of disciples to help the church in Phoenix understand and process some of the many thoughts and strong emotions that surfaced for many of us, especially our Black brothers and sisters, as a result of the recent social tensions in our country. We are proud of the racial diversity that we have in the church. But as much as we love each other regardless of our ethnicity or background, that does not guarantee that we are fully in touch with our unconscious biases related to race and ethnicity, and how these biases affect others and impact our church culture. It also does not mean that we really understand one another. When it comes to our experiences with racism and other cultural biases before becoming Christians - or even as Christians - some of us truly believed that being “a new creation,” meant we did not need to revisit these things with other disciples or take the time to process them from God’s point of view. Without our understanding of all parts of other people’s lives, we will be limited in our knowledge of who they really are.
Over the past few years several of our sister congregations have had success in helping meet these challenges by building their own local diversity team known as the SCUAD, an acronym for Social, Cultural, Unity And Diversity. We have sought advice from some of these churches, such as Denver and San Diego, to guide us as we build our team. We know that some of you still have questions about the SCUAD and its goals. The SCUAD’s overall goal is to bring greater unity in the church by addressing social, racial and cultural differences, modeling and teaching how to treat and talk to each other in light of these differences, and helping the church to be an example of unity to the world. We will continue to provide the church with more details as the team starts meeting and moves forward.
Speaking of the team, we are excited to announce that we have now assembled what we believe is a very balanced, spiritual team, after considering sixty of you and interviewing nearly thirty. (In addition to those chosen, many more that we considered were qualified.) Things like spiritual and emotional maturity, listening skills, confidence, and compassion were heavily weighed. We even have a roughly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Of the 14 people (including Tamara and myself) we have 5 Blacks, 3 Hispanics, and 6 Whites. There are 8 men and 6 women with 7 members in the West Valley and 7 in the East Valley.
Here are the members of the team: George Monnet, Rich Ortega, Karla Rose, Mali Van Meter, Alan Mitchell, Kenny Jackson, Alexis Chamness, Cheryl Hodge, Pete Heins, Conrad Schneider, Tanya Raner, Ryan Jones, Tamara Grossett, and Al Baird.
Please pray for each one of us as we get to know each other and as we decide how to best serve the needs of the church. We will keep you updated on our progress. Feel free to contact any one of us for more information or to give us your suggestions.
Until our next update, stay thankful, stay calm, walk with God, and encourage one another,
Al Baird and Tamara Grossett for the SCUAD