Parishioners at Grace Church, College Hill, are familiar with inclusion in parish life and in its outreach to the community. Grace is a diverse congregation that celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2016. As evidenced by the array of flags over the entryway to the nave of the church at the corner of Hamilton and Belmont Avenues, this faith community has embraced and includes families from Uganda, the surrounding community and members of the GLBTQ community for many years. One of the most widely known and attended outreach efforts hosted by Grace members is the Wednesday evening community dinner, which welcomes adults and youth from around the area and across the city to enjoy a nutritious and free home-made meal once a week. Another is the monthly Wednesday evening healing services, which combines drumming and the laying on of hands in a healing circle of movement and praise.

In the spirit of broadening our understanding of diversity and inclusion, Grace began “Stir the Pot,” a small group dialogue that focuses on important issues and allows participants to explore current day topics as they impact communities across race, gender, and ethnicity. The most recent dialogue conversation focused on developing a greater understanding of implicit bias as it relates to fully participating in the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement espoused by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

In response to the current climate of racial and ethnic divisiveness in Cincinnati and nationally, members of Grace convened to discuss and learn how implicit bias hinders our ability to be full participants in the Jesus Movement. Most importantly, a heightened awareness of our own implicit biases allows us to see Christ in all our neighbors as we extend the hand of outreach and faith by welcoming all members of the community. A second dialogue on implicit bias is planned for a date in October; we’d love to have you join us! Check out our website, to learn more about our outreach ministries and programs.

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Jacquelyn McCray, Ph.D., is a practitioner of community dialogue and civic engagement and a member of the Grace Church Mission Council. J White, an educator and community advocate, chairs community outreach, organizes the Wednesday Community Dinner at Grace, and is a member of the healing team.