SDI Webinar: White Privilege in Spiritual Companioning

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“We don’t need everybody to see all of this in order to change the world. We just need enough of us.”

John Biewen, On Being podcast with Krista Tippett,  10/29/20

January 12, 19, 26, and February 2, 2021

12:00pm – 1:15pm (Pacific)

3:00pm – 4:15pm (Eastern)

White privilege is the unearned advantage gained by simply being born White into a culture where whiteness is the norm. Although this privilege has long been obvious to BIPOC (Biracial, Indigenous, and People of Color), it has rarely been acknowledged and understood by White people. This four-part webinar is designed for spiritual companions who want to explore White privilege and recognize how it shapes our ministry.

We will approach this subject using personal language and reflection. Telling and hearing stories about our experience of White privilege will be at the heart of the webinar. Each session will include an opening meditation, presentation, reflection, small group storytelling, and large group sharing. We will end each gathering with a blessing.

Although this webinar is designed and is being offered primarily for those who identify as White, those 
who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) are most welcome.


  • From its founding the United States has been and still is a racist culture in which White people benefit from the oppression of BIPOC.
  • It is not the responsibility of BIPOC to teach White people about their White privilege.
  • Self-knowledge is as important, if not more important, than factual knowledge in the work for racial justice.
  • Experiencing and understanding White privilege is a necessary component of spiritual companioning.
  • There is a difference between diversity and inclusion. Diversity is about numbers. Inclusion is about relationship and power.
  • Becoming antiracist is hard and courageous work and can best be done with support from a strong community.

Session Descriptions

Session 1 (January 12): White Privilege

We will begin by defining and recognizing White Privilege and share our personal experiences of this unearned advantage. We will reflect on ways White privilege has shaped our lives and how it plays a part in our ministry of spiritual companioning.

Session 2 (January 19): White Supremacy

We live in a culture of White Supremacy. We will examine overt and covert attitudes and behaviors that support this way of life. We will look at history, much of which was seldom taught in school, to understand the origins of White supremacy.

Session 3 (January 26): White Fragility

 As we continue with information and self-reflection we will  most likely encounter our White Fragility. This experience defines the discomfort we often feel when engaging the topic of race and can be a powerful influence in our ministries

Session 4 (February 2) : Becoming Antiracist

This final session will explore ways to integrate our learning into our lives and our role as a spiritual companion. Understanding that becoming antiracist is a life-long process, we will consider the question, “Where do we go from here?”

Additional Information


Rev. Jane Vennard

Reverend Jane Vennard was called to the ministry of teaching and spiritual direction and ordained in 1987 by the United Church of Christ. She is retired senior adjunct faculty at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, USA. Jane has presented workshops at SDI conferences and offered a Plenary Address at the 20th anniversary celebration in 2010. She has led programs for Spiritual Direction Colorado’s continuing education events including one afternoon presentation on the topic of racism and a three-part webinar on White privilege. A number of church groups have also sponsored her programs on White privilege including UU, Catholic, Episcopal, and UCC. Jane has taught in spiritual direction formation programs at Garrett Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary and The Community of Christ spiritual formation program. She is a spiritual director in private practice and the author of eight books.

Frederica Helmiere

Frederica serves as SDI’s Director of Programs and Events, including the annual conference, international spiritual journeys, workshops and training events, and SDI’s emerging online education courses. She has spent two decades exploring entanglements at the intersections of spirituality, social justice, and ecology.


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