Training Cohorts

We are now accepting applications for 2022 training cohorts, described in depth below.

See current schedule as well as other seminars and info sessions here.

What am I signing up for?

Jen and Will have experienced between our two churches how this work must be customized for local context and grounded personally in those who teach it. Our training sessions are designed to work with a leader in your community to not only learn the Montessori-style story of "The Lie of racism," but to make a plan for how to adapt it to your context. This includes beginning a dialogue with clergy, vestry, and parents well in advance. You'll be working with Jen and Will with guidance and support by people of color. Plus your cohort (of 10 people max) will have a wealth of information amongst you. Each training is 7 sessions (plus one follow up with your cohort a few months later to learn from each other).

The training would support you to share the gift of antiracism with children in your community in the following ways:

  • Build commitments from your institution to engage children and families in this work

  • Find support to broach the conversation of race privately with families, host conversations among parents, and build relationships with a foundation of curiosity.

  • Brainstorm how to best share the story of "The Lie of Racism" with your community. How many sessions? How long will they be? For which ages? With which activities? How will graduates be celebrated by the entire community? The result will be a custom designed curriculum for presenting the story in your context.

  • Wonder for yourself about the history of racism and how you may have been distorted from right relationship with God by this lie. Learn to lead from love rather than guilt.

  • Form relationships with the other faith educators in their cohort to support you as you do this work.

  • Learn the depth of choices that inform the story.

  • Practice telling the story.

  • Do independent historical research that connects your context to the story.

  • Receive feedback about wondering questions and story presentation.

  • Be as prepared as one can be to take a risky step towards doing the work of antiracism in your context and to go forward boldly “with God’s help.”

The cost to join a 7 session training cohort is 350$ per organization. If cost is an issue there are likely scholarships available through your diocese, and we can talk with you more about ways to make it affordable for you. We look forward to learning more about your context soon.

How did this Training come to be?

Tell Me the Truth About Racism began as a pilot program between the congregations of St. Chrysostom’s Chicago and St. Christopher’s Oak Park in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The former is found in Chicago’s dense Gold Coast neighborhood but draws parishioners from around the city. The latter is found in a near west suburb of Chicago amid a walkable residential community. Both congregations are predominantly white and affluent, but otherwise have unique characters. Families in both congregations have displayed surprisingly high enthusiasm for the brand new class introducing the difficult history of racism to children during the 2021 Lenten season. Over 30 children from 20 families participated in nearly every session. The effort was shepherded by the parishes’ directors of children’s ministries, Jennifer Holt Enriquez and William Bouvel. Learn more about them here.

Aren't Kids too little to learn about racism?

Social-emotional development research tells us kids recognize differences in skin color from a very young age. Even when being raised to value diversity, kids notice patterns that our culture inadvertently teaches about race from our culture, and they will absorb the systemic racism on which our culture is built. By talking with them early, explicitly through our Christian value system, we have a chance to frame the problem of racism so children can recognize it for what it is, a lie.

Theological approach

Theologically, this approach frames racism as systemic sin which distorts the image of God in every person and in ourselves. To capture this in children’s language we emphasize that racism tells us a "lie" about who we really are. Tell Me the Truth About racism counters this lie with the Truth Christians know, that every person, in all their uniqueness, is equally loved and cherished by God. Unfortunately that is not what centuries of Christian influence have demonstrated. Deliberate and incremental lies were told by some to create and maintain a perceived advantage over others. Only God’s Truth can give perspective to recognize racism as a lie and to anchor the work to dismantle it. The heart of this work is to Tell the Truth about that painful story and to give room to wonder, grieve, notice where God was, and notice where God is now.

Teaching children opens up a new chapter in the church’s commitment to antiracism. There is powerful hope and humility in wanting to teach a new generation so they are free of racism’s poisonous marinade that many adults have already absorbed. While adults may actively work against racial bias, it is near impossible to be free from it - so pervasive is systemic racism in our culture. But for children who have not yet internalized racial bias, the church has an exciting opportunity to lead the building of a world where racial bias really is a thing of the past and God’s kingdom is one step closer to reality.