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LARK is the Preferred Anti-Racism Training in EDSD

In our ongoing commitment to embody the principles of justice, reconciliation, and love, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego has made a conscious decision to incorporate anti-racism training as a foundational requirement for obtaining certain leadership licenses. Among the various programs available, EDSD has named Localized Anti-Racism Knowledge (LARK) workshop as the preferred training for our leaders. Here’s why:

At baptism, we are all invited into a shared ministry of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world. Some areas of ministry require greater care. Eucharistic Visitors, Lay Preachers, Lay Evangelists, and Lay Catechists, all come into close relationships with others under the authority of the church. In order for all of our work to be respectful, safe, and caring, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and our own Diocesan guidelines require that those lay ministers be licensed. Anti-racism training is an important part of the lay licensing process. 

Bishop Susan Brown Snook said, “LARK is the anti-racism training I would prefer our members complete. Its localized focus gives insight into our region’s historical hurts, revealing current opportunities for healing in our communities.”

Unlike other anti-racism trainings, LARK is meticulously designed to reflect the specific populations, histories, and issues of our diocese, making it highly relevant and effective for our community. Going beyond the surface, LARK encourages participants to engage with stories of our local racial and ethnic groups, explore the legacies of regional leaders of color, and confront systemic injustices within our context. By doing so, LARK fosters a profound understanding and empathy that are crucial for leaders guiding individuals toward Christ.

Mae Chao and Thérèse Carmona, LARK co-creators, said, “LARK is different from other anti-racism programs in that it focuses on local stories about racial and ethnic groups within the EDSD geographical area. Beyond listening to these stories, LARK asks its participants to reflect on their baptismal promise to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being’ (BCP, 305). It does this by examining instances of local racism and by guiding participants to develop concrete action steps to join marginalized communities in changing unjust societal systems right here within our diocesan region.”

People of color expressed feeling affirmed and seen by the inclusion of stories only told amongst their ethnic circles or local neighborhoods. They were also grateful to hear the stories they had not yet known of other ethnic communities. These people felt challenged by the proximity of the issues and stories, feeling more urgency to take action.

“LARK will impel you to feel deeply about our local circumstances. It will introduce you to people and events that bring tears to your eyes and smiles to your face. It will challenge you to look beyond yourself and step out of your comfort zone. LARK will prompt you to grieve the injustices and inequities of this place we call home, and it will invite you to celebrate stories of hope, justice, and love,” said Carmona.

It’s not just about awareness; it’s about action. Leaders who participate in LARK are better prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue, inspire change, and contribute to the healing and unity of our community.

In the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, LARK is increasing awareness and cultural sensitivity–transcending the limitations of a monolithic “single story” and embracing the rich narratives of various ethnic and racial groups. This awareness encourages more critical thinking about the systems and structures that perpetuate racial inequity–prompting a shift to a more profound commitment to embodied solidarity. 

Moreover, LARK provides a unique space for individuals from diverse congregations to come together, fostering collaboration and discerning actionable next steps toward dismantling systemic racism. 

The Catechism in The Book of Common Prayer asks, ‘Who are the ministers of the Church?’ The answer is, “The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.” As lay people, we are all called to “represent Christ and his Church, to bear witness to him wherever we may be, and, according to the gifts given to us, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world and to take our place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.” (BCP, 855). 

If you recognize your call to serve your community in a greater capacity and expand on your gifts in a constructive way, LARK is a perfect starting place. Join the next LARK offering, hosted by St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in National City, on May 2-3. Register today to join this season’s LARK training.

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Category: #Advocacy, #Communications, #Worship & Formation

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