Living Hospitality in the Way of Jesus: Inclusive? Radical? Transforming?
On February 23, five of us from KUC joined about seventy others from around the region at First United in Kelowna, to participate in workshops about hospitality. Our Kelowna hosts noted that the inspiration for this Radical Hospitality workshop sprang from the discussion at the last BC Conference gathering about the United Church of Canada’s move towards a more intercultural ministry.
The presenters in Kelowna included Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation and an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. Since February 2017, she has served as the Executive Director of First United Church Community Ministry Society, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Carmen offered workshop sessions focussed on hospitality as it relates to the relationship with the marginalized. Members of the Kelowna “Lived Experiences” group were involved in both planning, and participating in the workshops.
Christina Kinch is the Justice Coordinator for Pacific Mountain Region, where she runs the Undivided Leadership Program: Leadership for Spiritual and Systemic Transformation. Included in her workshops was an exploration of “home court advantage”: the relationship between social privilege and home court advantage, and how noticing our own home court advantage can make us better able to offer intentional and radical hospitality.
Anna White, the Director for UBC’s Camp-Out, housed in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Justice, began by offering some basic language and terminology before expanding into “Allyship as a Spiritual Practice”. Anna taught us the “Platinum Rule”: rather than treating others as we would like to be treated, the Platinum rule requires that we treat others the way that they want to be treated. Allyship as a spiritual practice is a continual lifelong process rather than a status achieved in one act. We were reminded again of the need to be intentional, and that practice means doing something over and over.
Our own KUC practice of making the statement that we are LGBTQ Affirming, as part of our welcome each and every Sunday, is an example of an intentional spiritual practice. The importance of this practice was reinforced when at the end of Saturday afternoon, another workshop participant pulled me aside to say how much it had meant to him when he heard that welcome spoken aloud at a service he visited.
Chris has provided some definitions of words used in the above report:
Radical (adjective): advocating or based on thorough or complete political or social change synonyms: revolutionary, progressive, reforming, revisionist
Hospitality(noun):the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
The term radical hospitality can be defined as a practice of putting extraordinary effort and emphasis on making people feel welcome, and focuses on breaking down barriers that prevent people from participating in an effort, campaign, or community. Overcoming these barriers means accommodating things like scheduling, transportation, and childcare needs, as well as addressing the verbal, environmental, or behavior actions that may result in participants with identities outside of the dominant culture of the effort feeling unwelcome. It has also been described as “revolutionary generosity”.
“Radical hospitality means vulnerability. I have to change what is comfortable or simply familiar for me in order to provide what is best for others. I have to step out of my comfort zone, my safety zone, into the disturbing place beyond, where I am awkward, afraid, and unsure, and where I am in a position to make mistakes or even to fail. However, as a friend reminds me, this is also “where the magic happens. …Radical hospitality doesn’t just welcome, it transforms.”
Allyship is not an identity—it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. Allyship is not self-defined—our work and our efforts must be recognized by the people we seek to ally ourselves with.
Home Court Advantage– describes the benefit the “home team“ has over those who are visitors. It could include simple knowledge like where the washrooms are, to a more complex understanding of the rituals and culture of the organization.v