The Chaplaincy Institute (ChI) has been at the forefront of culture change to build a world where different voices from all faiths and no faith come to the table to be seen and heard.  The Spiritual but Not Religious (SNBR) and all those that do not fit into a box of organized religion are welcome here.  The seeker and the mystic are welcome here.  And, all those who have been cast out from their communities of faith because of their identities and values are welcome here.  

As ChI continued to expand, so too did the conversation around what it means to be an interfaith seminary in a diverse and changing world.   In 2017, the Chaplaincy Institute embarked on their own version of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) process with the support of Patricia St.Onge, an Indigenous elder and teacher at ChI and founder of Seven Generations Consulting.  She introduced the concept of “Deep Culture” and that term continues to hold our DEI process at ChI.  

Deep Culture is the awareness that we all carry attitudes, habits, understandings and ethics, which shape our responses, reactions and awareness to ourselves and others. Each individual learns and is influenced by thoughts and beliefs, personal values, and the subtle gradations of interpersonal relationships as expressed in actions and words, hidden and visible by day-by-day details of life as it is lived. Just like in the Cultural Iceberg example below, culture is deep and much of it is not obvious above the surface. If we want to influence it, it is important to understand what lies beneath the surface.

Currently, this important work is awaiting the next steps until additional volunteers and staffing are available.

The Deep Culture Hive ((DCH) is a collaborative advisory body to ChI leadership composed of representatives from ChI whose mission is to support ChI to uphold its mission, vision and values to create a culture of radical belonging, where every person feels they are an integrated part of the ChI seminary and larger community.  DCH does this through intentional and conscious efforts to consider, engage and value diversity, equity and inclusion including, but not limited to: classroom environment, curriculum development, the hiring process, ethics, right relations and accountability processes amongst faculty, staff, students, clergy and alumni.  DCH will strive to carry out this commitment according to the Chaplaincy Institute’s understanding of diversity which includes sexual orientation, ability, gender identity, class, nationality, religion and race/ethnicity.

The Deep Culture Hive is currently composed of the Dean of Students, the Community Minister, Sacred Justice Ministry (SJM) faculty member, a representative from the board, administrative staff, representatives from the ChI student body and ChI Clergy.  This body strives to represent diverse cultural and social expressions within the ChI community, and where it does not, to cultivate awareness and allyship to expand our welcome. 

Our attention is focused on:

  • Transparency to the community and a turning towards our shadows 
  • Looking at Cultural Operations that Determine Entry (CODE) to match who we say we are with our actions and behaviors
  • Making the ChI programs financially accessible to all economic experiences and particularly Black Indigenous People Of Color (BIPOC)  
  • Developing curriculum cohesion across the programs  
  • Anti-oppression continued training for staff, faculty and students
  • Recruitment for more diverse staff and students 
  • Combing through all written materials for exclusive and outdated language


Below are a variety of resources which inform our understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion.  These and other resources are included in a much longer (and always expanding) list of resources which students in the Sacred Justice Ministry thread are accessing. 

Racism & White Supremacy

103 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

1619 Project

Angela Davis, Educator and Activist

bell hooks:  A concise memoriam of this influential scholar’s impact on our world 

Lama Rod Owens:

Protest as a Spiritual Practice

Rev Angel Kyodo Williams on the role of mindfulness and meditation in social justice work

Mindfulness for This Moment: Inner Change and Social Justice

Radical Dharma – Interview with angel Kyodo williams (Podcast)

Resmaa Menakem:  Somatic Abolitionism, Resmaa Menakem (author, My Grandmother’s Hands)

Ruth King’s Mindful of Race Institute: “advancing racial awareness and leadership through mindfulness-based educational and group development programs.”

Ruth King, “Healing Racism from the Inside Out”:

Social Justice Movements and Spirituality

2000 verses on Social Justice, Sojourner Magazine

Bayard Rustin: 

Advisor to MLK, activist, gay man 

Bishop William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis: Poor People’s Campaign

Black Lives Matter as a Spiritual Movement:

Faith Matters Network:


Article:  He was MLK’s mentor, and his meeting with Gandhi changed history. But Howard Thurman was largely unknown, until now:

Mystic Soul Project   “Helping cultivate and grow a new generation of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ leaders and teachers of spiritual well-being; building networks and resources for and by people of color.”

Video Documentary: Backs Against the Wall – The Howard Thurman Story (2019):

Whiteness Rooted in Place:

In an interview with the Christian Century magazine, Yale Divinity School Professor Willie Jennings explores geographic and religious dimensions of race in America.

Restorative Justice/Transformative Justice  Colorizing Restorative Justice book & videos

Earth Justice and Spirituality

Bayo Akomolafe

Coming Down to Earth:  

Sanctuary as Spiritual Companionship in a Time of Hopelessness and Climate Chaos‍:

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) 

Green Faith

Dr. Melanie L. Harris, Keynote SKSM Symposium, 2019:

Ecowomanism: At the Intersection of Courage & Faith Key Note Address

National Religious Partnership on the Environment

Order of the Sacred Earth

Vandana Shiva

Trauma and Spirituality

Addiction, Trauma and Spirituality by Gabor Maté, MD

Childhood Trauma Is Associated with the Spirituality of Non-Religious Respondents

Healing Trauma and Spiritual Growth: Peter Levine & Thomas Huebl

HIstorical Trauma & Healing in Native American Communities: Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart

Spirituality, Archetypes, and Trauma: Peter Levine

Trauma awareness and Spiritual Bypass, Dr. Gabor Mate

Trauma Stewardship

My Grandmother’s Hands – Resmaa Menakem

Why is it important for CHI to engage in deep culture work?

ChI’s mission invites feedback and innovation. The study of several years’ worth of collected student evaluations, as well as inviting input from the ChI Board, and receiving requests from ChI faculty created the conditions for a deep culture process to be the next step in supporting organizational growth and improvement. ChI staff and faculty have a commitment to growing in such a way that our community is preparing chaplains who can engage with changing communities in a culturally based way. This requires looking at our internal culture to examine the places where we are operating in unconsciously biased ways. An explicit examination of our mission, visions and values and theory of change can point to the places where we’re being consistent and those where we have gaps between our commitment and our practices.

In summary, Deep Culture will help ChI address how our current actions reconcile with our vision: a just world that honors the sacred connection of all. This necessity was born from all of us, the ChI Community.

Where has the work of Deep Culture taken ChI from 2017 to the current moment?

2022 Deep Culture Engagement in justice work

  • Opening Service Renewal, Spirituality, Faith, and Reparations, Feb 20th with resources.
  • Three months of affinity group meetings
  • Closing Service Chaplaincy, Faith and Reparations