Jessica Davis, a Black woman with relaxed, curly hair, brown eyes, and wearing a blue shirt, is visible from the shoulders up, facing the camera, against a background of trees and other greenery

From the Board: DEI Consultant Contracted


Post Author: Rev. Kate Mackereth Fulton and Rev. Dr. Katie Nix

In September of 2022, the Young Clergy Women International Board finalized the details of hiring a diversity, equity, and inclusion expert, in order to move the Board and YCWI closer toward being an anti-racist organization. Below are letters from the Board to our membership explaining the context behind this decision.


Beloved of YCWI, 

Over three-and-a-half years ago, I attended my first YCWI conference in Atlanta. At the end of the event, I was installed as part of the incoming class of Board members. As I stood before you, ready to take my promise to serve and to be covered in prayer, I looked around and noticed that most of the rest of the Board looked a lot like… me.

Mere hours after our installation, the one brave woman of color on the Board needed to step down for personal reasons. This difficult moment was the beginning of my education as to the history of white privilege within the structure of YCWI.

If you are uncomfortable or concerned or angry while reading this, I can assure you that all of those same emotions and concerns have been present, especially the past two years I have served as your Vice Chair. I applaud the women in our leadership who have been brave enough to say, “This is not right,” or “This is not a safe space for me.”  And since my time joining the Board, the question of who is welcome, wanted, and supported to be on the Board has been at the forefront of all of our conversations. Piled onto this are the realities of the pandemic and the sheer amount of energy we have all needed to just keep our heads above water—it has been a strenuous two years for the Board, just like it’s been for most.  

And yet, the Holy Spirit was still working. Maybe not as quickly as you or I had hoped, but the power of God was still troubling the waters. Thanks to the generous support of the membership, we have been able to contract to bring on a consultant to help us in this area. We recognized right away that first, we needed an expert with direct experience in anti-racist work to help us navigate this, and second, women of color (and especially Black and Indigenous women) are historically paid less than their white male (and female) counterparts. We were determined to enter a fair and just contract.

Just as many of you are entering into a new season with your ministry, we too as a Board are beginning the next chapter of YCWI’s story. I am thrilled to see the ways that our new Chair and Vice Chair are continuing to pour their love, talent, and determination into addressing this issue. The Board, after 3 years, will finally be meeting in person this November. (Yes, almost all of the current Board are women that I have never met in person.) Our time together will be spent with the consultant we’ve contracted, and I am already amazed and grateful for the incredible insight, wisdom, and truth-telling that Jessica Davis brings. The seeds of hope are starting to sprout up in me again.  

As we continue into these hard and necessary conversations about who we want to be as YCWI, I ask that you keep the Board in your prayers. Each of these women bring their hearts and their passion to the work and I am honored to be part of this talented group. With your prayers and support, guided by the Holy Spirit, I believe great things are in store for this organization that we love.  

With hope,
Rev. Katie Nix
Board Member, Young Clergy Women International

 


 

Hello YCWI family!

I joined YCWI in 2018. Like you, I have noted with concern the relative lack of BIPOC clergywomen in our organization. Like you, I have watched as BIPOC clergywomen fought for acceptance and safe harbor within a community that prides itself in being exactly those things. Like you, I watched from afar as our leadership in recent years has struggled to address the racism and white supremacy within our organization. When I applied to join the Board last year, I did so because I wished to aid and support the Board as it looked at how our very systems – our bylaws, operating procedures and membership requirements – have been hindering our work toward equity. And so, it is with deep joy and gratitude that I share with you this update.

Jessica Davis, a Black woman with relaxed, curly hair, brown eyes, and wearing a blue shirt, is visible from the shoulders up, facing the camera, against a background of trees and other greenery

YCWI has contracted with Jessica Davis (she/they), a consultant who specializes in working with religious organizations, to aid us in this critical task. Jess met with the Board in September and will continue to meet with us monthly, including a two-day intensive session in November, as we reimagine our structures and work toward a just and unprejudiced future for YCWI. Jess’ bio reflects their expertise: 

Jessica Davis, MA, is a Christian educator, pastoral counselor, reparations educator/coordinator, and freelance writer and speaker living in the Philadelphia area. Her ministry passions include: youth ministry, church music, community visioning, and diversity/equity/inclusion. When not doing churchy things, she can usually be found knitting, volunteering with refugees and asylum-seekers, or working as a freelance makeup artist. You can connect with her work through Jessica Davis Church Consulting on Facebook.

Our work with Jess will include overhauling our bylaws, prayerfully considering our membership requirements and their impact on clergywomen of color, and placing internal structures to aid all of us, Board and members alike, in the ongoing work of anti-racism.

During this time of sacred reckoning, the Board is taking an “intentional pause” on other work—which includes the fall stewardship campaign we would normally be in the throes of right now. Let me say that, while we aren’t specifically soliciting financial gifts for next year, it is your continued faithful giving which has enabled the broad scope of the work we are presently undertaking. We thank you for supporting YCWI on its continued journey of building the kin-dom of God – a kin-dom where we can indeed all be one in Christ Jesus. May it be so!

Peace,
Rev. Kate Mackereth Fulton
Vice-Chair, Young Clergy Women International


Rev. Kate Mackereth Fulton (she/hers) has spent her ministry career seeking to bring those at the margins into the center of communities of faith and learning the power of vulnerability in all aspects of spiritual life. Presently, she serves as vice-chair of Young Clergywomen International and pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Germantown, MD. Her vocational focus is accompanying journeys of crisis and transformation. She is a contributor to “Speaking Truth: Women Raising Their Voices In Prayer” (Abingdon Press, 2020) and is a proud double alumna of Wesley Theological Seminary (M.A, M.Div).

Rev. Dr. Katie Nix is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and currently serves at Grace UMC in St. Louis, Missouri. Pastor Katie holds a Master’s in Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary where her emphasis was on the intersection of worship and missions. In addition to her ministerial work, she is on the board for Young Clergy Women International and an adjunct professor at St. Paul School of Theology and teaches the course "Mission in the Contemporary Church."


Image by: Jessica Davis
Used with permission
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