Building a Community of Belonging
Before you read any further, I invite you to carve out 16 minutes in your day to watch the short feature film above. It is worth every second and, dare I say, is a bit of a prerequisite for this message to fully resonate.
In this film, one hears powerful statements like “You are the greatest gift life has given me” and “You can tell me anything.” These are the loving words of a parent to a child through the time-worn art of letter writing. I have watched Bibi multiple times, and every time I gain new revelation and more insight—as a parent, a community member, and a friend. It is layered with poignant life lessons, and yet at its core, it is a simple love story—the journey of a parent working towards demonstrating the agape (Greek for God’s unconditional love) love for a son who solely desires to bring his whole self to the table of life.
As should be the case, FXW community members often challenge our administration and board to ensure that we are authentically walking out our mission. And, in turn, we regularly ask ourselves, “Are we truly a Community of Belonging?” when we state that we are Purposefully Diverse and Intentionally Inclusive. The honest answer is that we are not where we need to be, but through the steadfast work of committed parents and staff, and the newly formed Equity and Justice Forum, we are always striving to Do More towards achieving the fullness of this aspiration.
And let’s be honest, in a community as diverse as ours is in ability (mental and/or physical), age, ethnicity, faith, gender, geography, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more, the power of God’s agape love is the most integral component of achieving absolute inclusion and belonging.
As LGBTQ+ History month comes to a close on the calendar but not in action, we can take a page from Pope Francis who, in recent news, has been speaking on issues of inclusion with respect to the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church. FXW, too, has made efforts in recent years to be even more inclusive through simple gestures such as including gender pronouns on our faculty and staff email signature lines, but hearing the real life testimonial of a journey toward inclusion is a much bigger indication of progress. Be sure to watch this week’s Hidden Figure video featuring our beloved OSP art teacher Efrén Adkins, who courageously opens up their heart to us all.
—Kendall Mallette, Director of Mission Integration
A Prayer for Unity
Lord, thank You for overcoming the world. Because of that, we can experience unity with You. And because we can be unified with You, we can experience unity with each other.
It’s by You all things are held together. As we seek to center our lives around You, help us to see all the ways You are at work in the world.
Draw us closer to Your heart so that we begin to see each other the way You see us. Would that encourage us to look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.
We want Your Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, so unite us in purpose so that nothing keeps people searching for You from believing in You. May we experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent us and that You love them unconditionally.
Come, Lord Jesus, and do in our lives what only you can do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.