Building Bridges, Tearing Down Walls

(l-r) CDSP students Ren Aguila, Faith Anthony, Andrea Arsene, LaClaire Atkins and Ed Stewart at the Seminarians of Color Conference in March

Last month, seminarians of color from across the Episcopal Church met in Miami for an annual three-day conference. This year’s event, “Building Bridges, Tearing Down Walls,” was the first to include candidates for the vocational diaconate as well as students in non-traditional and non-residential seminary programs.

LaClaire Atkins, a third-year MDiv student from the Diocese of Nebraska, served on the conference planning team as one of its representatives from the indigenous community, and was a conference worship planner.

“It is a time to come together as people of color discerning calls in the church to worship together, lament together, laugh together, and love one another through this crazy journey,” she said.

The conference is designed each year by a team of seminarians that includes two representatives each from the black and African American, Latino and Latina, indigenous, and Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The Office of Ethic Ministries of The Episcopal Church supports the students.

“We discussed how we already are bridge builders within our communities and how we can continue to support each other as people of color in the church in breaking down the walls of racism and inequality within our beloved institution,” Atkins said.

“It is a community that I have been blessed to find in my years in seminary, and I know we will be in each other’s lives for the long haul.”