Pregnancy care centers serve clients regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, age, or marital status, and always treat clients with kindness, respect, compassion, and honesty. But as our government, schools, businesses, and churches are presently occupied by issues of racial diversity and equality, PCCs may also need to address them. At the Center magazine appreciates the following input from Jim Sprague, CEO of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and would welcome submissions on the subject from others as well.
Our strategic plan for 2021-22 called for me to write a statement about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because it’s critical that we think Christianly about this important topic.
So I set off on an adventure with books by both secular and Christian authors, as well as an assortment of blogs, videos, and podcasts. I wanted to be educated on all sides of the topic, understanding DEI to be both politically and emotionally charged.
I also asked around, pinging a small network of pregnancy center directors around the country and got a range of responses from, “We need to look into that,” to “DEI? What’s that!?”
After a couple months of consideration two prevailing thoughts emerged with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the ministry workplace:
1. You can’t control how people define DEI because the terms are largely secular,
2. Avoid an official statement because it will only serve as a lightning rod for controversy.
Two books influenced me in my conclusion: Eight Questions About Race: A Black Pastor Responds to Black Lives Matter, by Bishop Aubrey Shines, and Oneness Embraced; Reconciliation, The Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together, by Dr. Tony Evans.
It was this statement by Tony Evans, however, that set my thinking and pointed me to the truth of the Word of God on the matter of unity:
“The reason we haven’t solved the race problem in America after hundreds of years is that people apart from Christ are trying to create unity, while people under God who already have unity are not living out the unity we possess” (p.46).
This freed me from feeling like we needed the best-ever DEI statement to a focus on how we are called to steward the unity we already have in Christ. I renamed the initiative “Unity and Welcoming” and the group assembled to advance this project began looking at verses like this:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23 NIV)
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV)
Instead of writing another corporate diversity plan, we put our energies into designing activities that celebrate our unity in Christ Jesus and welcome the arrival of the gifts, talents, and education each new staff and volunteer brings to the PRC. Race and ethnicity are certainly part of that celebration, but if we put the unity we already have in Christ first, our denominational and racial differences will enhance our defense of the sanctity of human life rather than detract from it.
James Sprague is the CEO of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a pregnancy care ministry established in 1985. The PRC's mission is to "live the truth that people matter to God."
Photo credit: Robert Koorenny on Unsplash.com.