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On Equity, Inclusion and Extraordinary Community

by Sam Bressi

Click here to view it on LNP

Lancaster County Community Foundation knows that Lancaster is an extraordinary community. As we authentically pursue that ideal, our community can only be truly extraordinary if every person in it has full access to its amenities and opportunities. For this reason, we have placed cultivating a culture of equity and inclusion at the center of our work, and we need your help to make it happen.

We are fortunate to live in a richly diverse community. This diversity expresses itself in countless ways: race and ethnicity, religious tradition, ability, sexual orientation, and beyond.  Our diversity, when fully appreciated and respected, is one of our greatest strengths. This diversity, however, can also bring inherent tensions that, together, we must confront and overcome.

As your Community Foundation, we seek to build a welcoming community — a community that leads the way in creating equitable and inclusive opportunities. Our view is simple: All who enter Lancaster County deserve to participate fully in our economy, our amenities and recreation, our culture and our community. As we grow closer to this ideal, our community will flourish.

The varying views, values and unique perspectives that exist throughout our community can, and at times will, conflict. Religious freedom is a fundamental right and should be given great deference. An individual has a right to practice his or her unique faith traditions. These traditions, by the way, are incredibly varied and significantly diverse in and of themselves. 

There has been and should remain a separation of church and state. None of us want our government entering our churches, synagogues, temples or mosques and dictating how we can and cannot express our faith.  In America, we have the right to express our faith — or no faith at all — in the way we choose.

An individual’s faith, as deep and wide as it may be, should not, however, be used as an excuse to discriminate. Can you imagine entering a restaurant, a bank, a shop, or any community establishment and being turned away because the proprietor believed you were not fit to serve? Lancaster is at its best when we maximize the potential of our greatest resource: our people. 

We believe that we cannot be successful as champions of inclusion by excluding those with whom we have differences.  We will work to build open and honest dialogue and better connect with community members across our entire county. Accentuating our disagreements and pushing away those who are different from us will only serve to undermine the tremendous potential that exists here in Lancaster County. We commit to setting a standard for ourselves that drives us to be a better, more open and more inclusive organization. We hope you will join us.