Do Justice – A Letter to the LSC Family

Dear Lutheran Services Carolinas Family,

Communication is hard.  LSC does a great job of sharing, even over-sharing, but it can never be enough.  The death of George Floyd and the international demonstrations for justice underway are a good example.

When African American’s faith in humanity is in doubt, or any group is marginalized, LSC needs to respond.  LSC has been responding for years, but I need to communicate even better!  LSC has a long history of justice, diversity, and inclusion.  Black lives matter.  That statement doesn’t dismiss anyone or any other group; it acknowledges four hundred years of injustice and white privilege.  I realize to some those words may be triggers, but when Jesus left to look for the one sheep it didn’t mean the lives of the other sheep didn’t matter, it meant he needed to focus on the one in immediate danger.  Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Christ that are in danger.  Their lives matter.  Sadly, in this world we need to say it.

LSC’s response begins, as always, with our Vision Statement from John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Christ called for abundant life for everyone!  He did not reserve abundant life for one group over another.  Our Mission Statement, “Empowered by Christ, we walk together with all those we serve,” puts our vision into action, again with Christ leading as we walk together with all.  Our Vision and Mission guide everything we do.  All of our positions, policies, and actions flow from those headwaters.  One doesn’t have to be a Lutheran or Christian to be served by or work for LSC; our guide star is Christ.   LSC serves without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, disability or veteran status, or any other legally protected status. The world will, like the song says, “know we are Christians by our love.”

Many initiatives flow from our core beliefs, like our values:  Faith, Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Collaboration, and Compassion.  LSC’s Dignity and Respect Statement was developed from this to tell the world:

At Lutheran Services Carolinas, we believe our family of residents/clients, their families, teammates, and friends each have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. If you ever feel you have not been treated with dignity and respect, we encourage you to discuss this with a supervisor or the administrator/executive director immediately. Everyone’s active participation is necessary for us to live by Christ’s admonition to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Our Dignity and Respect Statement is polite, but be assured the words carry great weight.  LSC unequivocally denounces racism, discrimination, intolerance, and oppression.  We have a zero tolerance for any form of racism, discrimination, or oppression.

LSC’s initiatives span inclusion of diversity and inclusion in LSC’s strategic plan; creating The LSC Way, a strong culture of service for all teammates; the LSC Diversity Council, open to every one of LSC’s over 2,000 teammates; adoption of the Just Culture philosophy to console the teammate who makes a mistake, to counsel a teammate exhibiting at-risk behavior, and to punish the reckless; a strong Cultural Competence plan; the creation of Lutheran Services University to lead and share diversity training for all teammates including all supervisors.

LSC’s justice and diversity efforts don’t stop at the front door.  We are a corporate citizen, and each member of the LSC Family is a member of their community.  LSC has been actively involved with the N.C. Lutheran church’s African Descent Strategy Team since 2003.  Multicultural ministries, LGTBQ efforts, and Hispanic outreach have all influenced LSC.  A few years ago, the Ku Klux Klan leafleted our Columbia, S.C Office neighborhood to protest LSC’s refugee services.  We were okay with being targeted by the KKK; we are on the right side of history.  All those collaborations and events have influenced LSC’s learning, sharing, and serving.

Our national Lutheran church has likewise been a leader in justice and diversity.  LSC’s first response to the death of George Floyd was to widely share Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s statement affirming the Lutheran church’s commitment to combat racism and white supremacy.  Bishop Eaton began her statement by quoting Micah 6:8,

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Since that has been my personal mission statement for many years, her statement spoke to me deeply.  I am a person of privilege, which is all the more reason to use my voice to lift up those who are less privileged and who have been marginalized.

Please let me end with a call to action.  I urge every member of the LSC Family to mourn the death of child of God George Floyd and others that have died and been brutalized; pray for our country; learn and study more about Black Lives Matter, justice, diversity, inclusion; and, if you are called to it, to stand up or lie down in peaceful demonstration for liberty and justice for all as is our first amendment right.

Peace be with you.

Ted W. Goins, Jr.