If You Have Not Lived It, You Cannot Teach It


The Sierra Pacific Synod is committed to centering the voices of those with the most at stake. Those living at the intersections of issues and events must be allowed to speak first, last and longest.


We will intentionally amplify the voices of those who have embodied experiences when we choose speakers, preachers and teachers. We have and will continue to cancel presentations by individuals who have studied other people, but do not self identify or embody the demographics of the presentation.


Our expectations include, but are not limited to:


  • events about racism should be led by individuals who have experienced (not merely observed) racism

  • events about women should be led by individuals who identify as women

  • events about LGBTQ issues should be led by individuals who identify as LGBTQ

  • events about social issues should be led by individuals with first-hand lived experiences with those social issues

  • events about other countries should center the voices of individuals who are native to that country

  • presentations about general topics, including the bible should have diverse presenters that match the demographics of our Synod (or the geographic area of the presentation)

  • presentations by individuals who do not have a lived experience with the subject matter, but instead have second-hand experience or a family connection to an issue should be called peer support

Individuals asking the Synod to promote future events should expect questions about the demographics and lived experiences of the presenters. We will be encouraging all events promoted in Synod newsletters to include diverse voices at the center of the issues being presented.


When planning an event, the following questions should be asked:


  • Who has the most at stake in this issue?

  • If we do not know anyone at the center of this issue, should we get more education about the subject before presenting information about it?

  • Are there resources, made by individuals closer to the center of this issue that we should share?

  • Is there an organization that specializes in teaching about this issue that we could partner with?

  • Does speaking publicly about this issue put anyone in legal jeopardy or cause a safety issue? If so, how can we decrease the risk?

As the Synod begins living into this vision, we hope that you will let us know how we can do better. What additional questions should we be asking as we plan events?

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