Racial Reconciliation Set as a Priority for Episcopalians

Today, as part of a very busy legislative day in the House of Deputies, the body voted to concur with the vote of the House of Bishops the passage of the Resolution D002 titled “Funding the Work of the Beloved Community.”  The resolution, which requested $5 million in funding, called for, over the next three years, “the implementation of additional work of organizing our efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a Beloved Community of healers, justice makers, and reconcilers.”

“I am heartened by the clear agreement and centrality of commitment to on-going need for racial reconciliation,” said the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The Committee on Race & Reconciliation met for seven days (over many  hours), and hard four days of testimony allowing as many people as possible to give voice to the current state of racial reconciliation in the church and to share stories of experiences both in the church and in the world.

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The Deputation of the Diocese of California has been hard at work putting forth the cause of Racial Reconciliation (With mascot Lou Seal watching over them).

“We heard many stories, some painful to hear, of how the structured racism of our society affects our siblings in the Church of God,” said Eric Metoyer, a deputy for Diocese of California and member of the Race and Reconciliation Committee. “We heard about many diocese that have no racism training or have put an end to those efforts. We heard about people who needed to travel far, by airplane, to get the training they needed. We also heard the fervent hope that the work of healing from the sin of racism will continue.”

Under the resolution,  financial support will be used to make grant to agencies, dioceses, and affiliated entities of the Episcopal Church to support their efforts to create programs and activities to support and encourage racial reconciliation.  This resolution was penned in the wake of overtly racist violence including the murders at Mother Emmanuel African Episcopal Church (2015); the numerous deaths of black men and youth at the hands of law enforcement personnel; and the continuing and worsening atrocity of mass incarceration that unfairly catches a disproportionate number of persons of color.

Although a move in a strong direction, the passing of this resolution is not without a tinge of regret. “It’s important because the work has been generational at this point,” said Carolyn Gaines, Deputy of the Diocese of California. “It’s been going on for so very long. Steps towards achieving these goals are incremental, just teeny baby steps, and personally, I look at other aspects of our ministry together and see progress made in other areas that by comparison are at a very speedy rate. I’m ambivalent. I’m pleased to see any progress made but at the same time it grieves me that it’s taken so very long.  We are not there yet.  I want to see what happens.”

GC+logo18_color-transparent-background-165pxFurther, when the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance (PB&F) presented its triennial budget later in the afternoon, the $5 million sum proposed for the work of this resolution has been cut drastically. “In hope of creating the the beloved community, we requested additional funding for racial reconciliation through resolution D002 proposed by deputy Joe McDaniel of the Central Gulf Coast Diocese.  ‘If not now, when” was the the guiding call of the committee’s work,” said Metoyer. circle-312343_640

In the end, the “now” of this resolution has been deprived of many of its teeth, with funding given amounting to $750,000 along with $1 million being carried over from the previous budget. However, there is some hope that additional funding might be raised from other (as yet unidentified) sources, according to some.

As an issue, racial reconciliation promises to be a priority in the Episcopal Church, though. The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop; the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies; and Michael Barlowe, Secretary of the General Convention have come together to map out a trifecta of priorities for the coming triennium: Racial reconciliation, evangelism, and care of creation.

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