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Lenten Questions

Louise Packard
March 28, 2019

I’ve never been very good at sticking to a Lenten discipline. Like my New Year’s resolutions, they always seem to fade quickly as other priorities demand my attention. I do better at keeping an interior monologue running – reflecting on my daily commute, for example, what all my busy-ness has to do with my journey to be closer to God (spoiler alert: it’s a pretty mixed bag). Last Friday, I added some new questions for these Lenten ruminations.

We met in the Trinity Forum. There were 85 of us representing 17 different organizations gathered for the Racial Equity Learning Community’s spring workshop hosted by Trinity Boston Foundation. Our topic, as it always is at RELC events, was “Dismantling White Supremacy Culture in Your Organization.” At the outset, the facilitator is clear that when we say White Supremacy Culture, we are not talking about extremist groups carrying tiki torches. We’re talking instead about the pervasive culture in which we all live, day in and day out, that secures the social dominance of white people.

At the workshop, we were asked to reflect on who has power in our organizations. We looked at the domains of Voice (Who speaks at meetings? Whose ideas are acted upon? Who is taken at their word?); Decision Making (Is the decision-making process understood, particularly by those who will be directly impacted? How are decisions communicated once they’re made?); and Privilege/Access (Is there a deliberate plan to develop the leadership of people of color? Does the physical layout of the office impact who has access to information and people with power?).

Trinity Boston Foundation’s Organizational Equity Practice, the team that created the Racial Equity Learning Community, asks how as mission-driven organizations we are aligning our internal practices with the values we espouse externally and the work we do in the community. The goal is healing, wholeness and most of all, integrity. We can’t get there without taking a very hard look at the way we do our work – our policies, practices and systems, whether intentionally designed or just happening by default. That analysis can then help us actively build a culture that values every voice, shares information broadly and invites and develops the leadership of all the staff.

It strikes me that these are also good questions for us during Lent. How, as individuals, do our actions align with our values?  If we want to combat climate change, how much gas and plastic do we use? If we want to dismantle systemic racism, how are we using whatever authority we have in our jobs to create a racially equitable culture?

Easter is around the corner. And just a few days after Easter will be Bostonians for Youth, Trinity Boston Foundation’s annual gala fundraiser. We’ll be celebrating the arrival of our new Rector, Morgan Allen, honoring Suffolk D.A. Rachael Rollins, and gathering as a community to stand with youth of color in Boston. Our theme is “Building a More Equitable Boston.” I hope you can take part as a guest, a volunteer and/or through our silent auction (donating or bidding on items).

Meantime, my prayer for all of us is that our Lenten journey will include ample space and time for meaningful reflection. Where are the opportunities for better aligning our beliefs and actions?  How are we offering ourselves up to fulfill God’s purposes in the world? These are such good and important questions to ponder as we wend our way to Jerusalem, the cross and then the empty tomb.


Yours in that journey,


Louise Burnham Packard

Executive Director, Trinity Boston Foundation


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