Racial Justice/ Racial Reconciliation
As recent events in the news headlines have highlighted, racism remains an ongoing issue in American society on the personal, cultural, and institutional levels. God created us all equally. God created our differences and called it good. Episcopalians, in our Baptismal Covenant, commit to treating all with dignity and respect. Because all lives matter, when one group is systematically not treated with dignity and respect, it's essential to declare that group matters. We support the movement, Black Lives Matter.
While we recognize that there are other groups that have been systematically oppressed and believe those groups matter and support efforts on their behalf, we've seen too often that when the focus is broadened it shifts off black lives. "Black Lives Matter" calls us back.
"Anti-racism" training is a canonical requirement for all clergy prior to ordination. The Episcopal Church in CT has a partnership with a consulting organization VISIONS, INC to provide this training and to serve as a resource to clergy and congregations to address issues of racism, sexism, any forms of discrimination or issues around power dynamics from personal, interpersonal,, cultural, and institutional perspectives.
(here's a link to info about their diversity and inclusion training http://visions-inc.
In January 21-23, 2016 Trinity Institute's annual educational program was livestreamed from NYC to sites across the USA (including five in ECCT). The seminar focused on race and was titled, "Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice." (https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/trinity-institute/2016/home) Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry preached at the opening worship.
A Racial Justice/Racial Reconciliation Ministry Network was launched following Trinity Institute. It meets occasionally and member the Rev. Rowena Kemp oversees a Google group listserve for conversation. Possible future actions by the Ministry Network include collecting more resources for parishes; organizing a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2017, and reading "Just Mercy," by Bryan Stevenson. The Ministry Network plans to have a table at this year's Annual Convention. Participating as of September 2016 are: The Rev. Rowena Kemp, Tokunbo Green, Esq., Aldon Hynes, Karin Hamilton, Robin Hammeal-Urban, Elaine Sleath
At the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church In 2015 a major resolution supporting racial justice and racial reconciliation was passed and backed up with $2 million over the next three years. The text is below.
Resolution C019: Establish Response to Systemic Racial Injustice
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church confesses that, despite repeated efforts at anti-racism training as well as racial justice and racial reconciliation initiatives including the passage of more than 30 General Convention resolutions dating back to 1952, the abomination and sin of racism continue to plague our society and our Church at great cost to human life and human dignity; we formally acknowledge our historic and contemporary participation in this evil and repent of it; and be it further
Resolved, That in the wake of the brutal, overtly racist murders of nine of our Christian brothers and sisters of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015; numerous inexcusable deaths of unarmed black men and youth at the hands of law enforcement personnel; and the moral atrocity of mass incarceration in which a hugely disproportionate number of persons of color have been unfairly caught in the net of an unjust criminal justice system, the 78th General Convention affirms as a top priority of The Episcopal Church in the upcoming triennium the challenging and difficult work of racial reconciliation through prayer, teaching, engagement, and action; and be it further
Resolved, That the Church understands and affirms that the call to pray and act for racial reconciliation is integral to our witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to our living into the demands of our Baptismal Covenant; and be it further
Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop, President of the House of Deputies, Vice President of the House of Bishops, and Vice President of the House of Deputies be charged to lead, direct, and be present to assure and account for the Church’s work of racial justice and reconciliation
The Episcopal Church hosted a panel discussion on race marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The panel may be streamed online here.
Province One of The Episcopal Church has put together an online toolbox of Anti-Racism resources here.
A Church School Exercise on Race (Under Christian Formation)
Racial Reconciliation in The Episcopal Church
Resources from the Episcopal Archives:
Everyday Democracy (formerly Study Circles Resources Center) has resources for communities by issue. Under "Racial Equity" they have the following (some in Spanish. See more on the website, as well, www.everyday-democracy.org):
- Six session discussion guide, "Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation"
- Supplemental guide, "Dialogue for Affinity Groups" (for groups of similar racial or ethnic backgrounds, to talk about issues of racism, in sessions preceding and following the "Facing Racism in Diverse Nation"
- "Understanding Structural Racism Activity"
- "Activity to Explore the Impact of Skin Color"
- "Speed Meeting Activity for Communities Addressing Racism"
- "Racial Dynamics to Watch For"
In 2009 the Episcopal Church in Connecticut called for parishes to examine their complicity in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and held a diocesan-wide Day of Awareness and Repentance at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. The Rev. Rowena Kemp provided a template for reporting the history. As part of that day, some parishes presented reports of their historical research; a portion of the documentary, "Traces of the Trade," was viewed, and there was a service of repentance with Bishops Clarence. N. Coleridge, Andrew D. Smith, James E. Curry, and Wilfrido Ramos all took part in the liturgy.
In 2009, the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut passed a resolution acknowledging complicity in the transatlantic slave trade, and repentance for that.