Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have learned a great deal more about the inequities and injustices in American society. As in-person life resumes in much of the country, we are forced to ask how we will live and lead in light of what we have learned. How will our “new normal” be any different than the past? Can it be more just and equitable than what was? What’s our share of that work in our own congregational workspaces? 

In this Weekly, we are guided in wrestling with these questions by two of my colleagues at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity and by a pastor and researcher. First, Maria Teresa Gastón invites us to see that “a just workplace is more than just a workplace.” Then, Emily Lund challenges us that the people who help knit our offices together — often women — may do so at considerable professional and personal costs. Finally, Alexis Carter Thomas offers wisdom about how congregations can help Black women flourish in ministry

We’re talking about just workplaces in this Weekly. Welcome!

A just workplace is more than just a workplace

A just workplace is more than just a workplace

Perceptions of how employees are treated, how decisions are made, and whose voices are heard all contribute to whether an organization is just. And that affects what it can achieve, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

Resources for leaders during the pandemic

Blessed are the cake-buyers. But will they be promoted?

Blessed are the cake buyers — but will they get promoted?

A return to in-person work brings the opportunity to make our offices more equitable, writes a communications specialist with Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

How congregations can help Black clergywomen flourish

How congregations can help Black clergywomen flourish

Alexis Carter Thomas, a pastor, writer and researcher, has found that intentional self-care, a church’s ethos of care and congregational openness to new approaches are notable factors that contribute to the thriving of Black clergywomen.

From the Alban Library

How Your Congregation Learns: The Learning Journey from Challenge to Achievement

by Tim Shapiro

How Your Congregational Learns: The Learning Journey from Challenge to Achievement

Change isn’t always easy or intuitive. How Your Congregation Learns introduces churches and leaders — both lay and ordained — to the process of the learning journey. By understanding learning dynamics and working to become a learning community, the congregation will be able to move more purposefully to achieve its goals.

Congregations face many kinds of challenges. Some are mundane: the roof leaks; the parking lot needs repaving; the microphones don’t work well. Some tests are transcendent: How should lives be honored? What is God calling the congregation to do and be? How can generosity be taught? Throughout life people face challenges for which they are not prepared — the death of a parent, a new job offer, making a decision about where to live. So it goes that congregational leaders face challenges that are just beyond the grasp of their abilities. This book addresses the just-beyond-the-grasp challenges and shows how real congregations can learn from them. 

Before you go…

As people of faith, we have the opportunity to model not just best practices for the workplace but the best ethical practices for workplaces. We should not pretend that it is easy for congregations to do this; often times, there are significant forces at work in the congregation pushing against these practices. Yet when we adopt such practices and hold to them, we are showing that it is possible to have a values-shaped workplace. 

So, I’m curious — what ethical and equitable practices have you adopted in your congregation? What practices do you hope to see your congregation adopt in this season? Let us know on social media or by email. 

We’ll see you in your inbox next week, and in the meantime, peace to you! 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity