Report — Diversity and Reconciliation Commission

Shirley Bolden, Chair  “The fundamental truth undergirding this vision [of the Beloved Community] is that all are made in the image of God. It is in our diversity that we discover the fullness of that image…. Whenever individual or community behaviors work against God’s vision, we have promised to respond in ways that will serve to heal: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will with God’s help (Book of Common Prayer p305).”  March 21, 2006, pastoral letter from the House of Bishops — “The Sin of Racism: A Call to Covenant” Articles published in the New Spirit and other activities held virtually during the 2022 Pandemic. Book Club discussions: “Slaves in the Family” by Edward Ball Edward Ball, the descendant of a seventeenth-century plantation owner in Charleston, South Carolina, chronicles the lives of the people who lived in his ancestors’ lands: the African slaves, mulatto children, and his own white landowning relatives. This is the story of black and white families living side by side through three hundred years. As Ball searches out descendants of the slaves his family-owned, he confronts his own fears and prejudices about slavery and his family. The average attendance for the book study discussion groups was fourteen for the five sessions. “Four Hundred Souls” Edited by Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N. Blain Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness. The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history. The average attendance for the book study discussion groups for the five sessions was sixteen. Services held in 2022 Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation: National Day of Racial Healing Tuesday, 18 2022A Day of Prayer and Fasting The Diversity and Reconciliation Commission asked each church to open their doors or virtually have the opportunity for many to pray together. Absalom Jones Celebration February 6, 2022 Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear: that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. The diocese was invited to join the people of St. Augustine’s in a celebration of the Blessed Absalom Jones. The celebrant was Bishop Bruce, and the celebration included recorded messages from the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Union of Black Episcopalians. The St. Augustine’s liturgical dancers also took part. For those who could not attend in person, the event was broadcasted live on Facebook and YouTube. During Black History month, there were four video presentations on key African Americans in the Episcopal and beyond.  The Rev. Dr. Harold Lewis, The Rev. George F. Bragg, The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, Mr.  Allen Crite. Diversity Workshops April 23, 30 and September 24, 2022 The purpose of these workshops is to assist the diocese in organizing to eliminate the sin of racism. There are three essential steps to be followed when a diocese makes this commitment to focus on the sin of racism, its elimination from the church, the community, and the world in which we live. First, there needs to be an organized and functioning anti-racism committee; secondly, the support of the diocesan bishop; and thirdly, a comprehensive plan for proceeding with this ministry. This training fulfills the intent of several General Convention resolutions, which call for leaders at all levels of The Episcopal Church to receive training on the Church’s teaching about racial diversity as well as other forms of diversity present within the human family. KC Pride Parade June 11, 2022 Several Episcopal churches from West Missouri braved the sunshine and heat to participate in the Kansas City Pride 2022 parade. Among the churches represented were St. Paul’s – Kansas City, St. Mary’s – Kansas City, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral all from the Northwest-Metro deanery, and Grace Episcopal Church, Chillicothe from the Central Deanery. Juneteenth June 19, 2022 June 19 commemorates the date that Major General Gordon Granger read General Order 3 to the people of Galveston, Texas. It was at that time, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation, that every enslaved person in the United States was free and knew it. A celebration occurred and celebrations still occur to this day. It’s important to dress up and celebrate with barbeque and strawberry soda, pies, and tea cakes. It’s also important to share our ancestry as Black people in the United States. Union of Black Episcopalians The Diocese of West Missouri now has an official chapter of Union of Black Episcopalians. The first meeting was held on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, via Zoom. The Midwest Regional Director joined the meeting to welcome the Diocese of West Missouri. The president of the Diocese of West Missouri’s Chapter is the Rev. Rita Kendagor. Peace and Justice Commission Another commission has been established as the Peace and Justice Commission. This commission will work with issues of gun violence, public education, insurance, and other unfair entities. Additionally, there is a large overlap with the Diversity and Reconciliation Commission. The Diversity and Reconciliation Commission will work with individual congregations on during a book study, diversity training and other issues dealing with Peace and Justice. Diversity & Reconciliation Recommended Resources: Center for Racial Healing List of Historically Black Parishes Responding to Racist Violence as the People of God Resources for Adult Formation with an Emphasis on Race and Diversity   by Katherine Malloy, on Building Faith: A ministry of the Virginia Theological Seminary, The Episcopal Church – Becoming a beloved community – Plan The Episcopal Church – Racial Justice Audit of Episcopal Leadership The Episcopal Church Office of Black Ministries The Episcopal Church – Racial Reconciliation To print a copy of the above report, please use your browser’s print facility.