Setting The Bones For An Embracing DEI Culture

Ronald HendersonNew director seeks to break down ‘all barriers, discrimination and intolerance’ throughout the North Texas Conference

Rev. Dr. Ronald D. Henderson is Director of Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the North Texas Conference.

Recently, I had cervical fusion surgery, which required the replacing and/or repair of multiple vertebrae in my neck. After a time of rehabilitation, I returned to work in my new role as Director of Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the position I assumed on July 1.

After a thorough review of the work done prior to my procedure, I was shocked and disappointed at how the fruits of my labor did not measure up to my normal standard. Upon further analysis, I realized and accepted the fact that the pre-surgery pain I experienced had been both omnipresent and excruciating, which impacted and disrupted my professional and private life. After surgery, I was cognizant of and delighted with the reemergence of my normal energy, creativity and effectiveness, which returned minus the constant pain.

Racism, contempt for and intentional exclusion of people of color, has similar – if not more painful – effects as the disruption of a person’s quality of life due to physical agony. Structural racism devalues the worth, dignity and sacredness that one innately possesses at birth. God’s word is clear; all people are formed and born in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

More painful for me than deteriorating vertebrae is the reality that systemic racism has destroyed the psyche or lives of people of color whose inclusion, perspective and experiences may have enriched the organizations or communities in which they were excluded. When we have true inclusion, we will have removed all barriers, discrimination and intolerance across all communities, systems and segments of society.

The beginning of a cultural change for an organization begins with an acknowledgment of past sins of racism, inequality and exclusion, which leads me to our present Journey Toward Racial Justice in the North Texas Conference. Although I am now living in this new and challenging position, I would like to make it clear that diversity is not the idea of Bishop McKee or myself; it is God’s idea. He created them, male and female (Genesis 1:27).

Bishop McKee has expressed a total commitment to a culture in the North Texas Conference and the broader society that reflects diversity, equity and inclusion. Consequently, those of us in his Cabinet are equally committed to this important work. Collectively, our mission is to dismantle racism in all forms, wherever it is harbored; and to develop authentic communities of inclusion.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that we are born with an indelible stamp of the Imago Dei – the image of God manifested in all humans. Therefore, all people are sacred and must be valued, treated with dignity and embraced as children of God.

As I conclude, I can share that my quality of life has improved because of a successful surgery and rehabilitation, which was a long, difficult and sometimes-painful process. In comparison, the change in thinking in our conference for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive reality will not take place overnight and may, at times, be an arduous undertaking. However, with diligence, commitment, persistence and consistence, this will be a new and better way of life for all of us.

To involve your church or further involve your church in our Journey Toward Racial Justice, email Rev. Ronald D. Henderson.

Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2021