Racial Justice Commission spotlight: Fostering antiracist Episcopal communities

A reflection from the Racial Justice Commission's Subcommittee on Fostering Antiracist Episcopal Communities, spotlighting its priorities and progress

Our subcommittee seeks to form active antiracist Episcopal communities through three broad areas:  by liberating ourselves from racism through formation and education; by fostering repentance from the sin of racism and reflecting the diversity of our church in our liturgical life; and by offering opportunities for Episcopalians to take action to end racism in our broader communities.

Racial Justice Commission pull quote with hands graphic

The members of our subcommittee, reflecting a diverse group of individuals and communities from across the diocese, are called together by a shared conviction that God desires justice and equity for all people.  We invite all of our Episcopal communities to join us on this journey, whether you are just beginning to consider what you can do or the work of racial justice is central to your congregation's mission.  We seek to make antiracism work accessible for all diocesan communities, offering tools and resources to support all of us in becoming Beloved Community.

For many churches, the challenge is knowing where to begin.  Both The Episcopal Church and others have a variety of resources for formation and liturgy, but it can be difficult to know where to find them or whether they will meet the needs of one's community.  We are creating a collection that will help parishes begin the work of antiracism formation, or take the next step in their current journey.  This will include resources that support BIPOC communities in their antiracism journey.  Look for materials in early 2022.  These resources will serve not only adults but also children and youth, and not only clergy but also lay people.

We also seek to lift up and support communities already doing this work, amplifying their leadership and connecting them to other congregations looking for a place to begin.  There is already so much wisdom in our Episcopal family.  In the past year alone, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul has hosted antiracism book groups and discussions to deepen participants' understanding and prompt conversation.  The North Shore Deanery is hosting a public film screening this fall of "A Reckoning in Boston" to explore issues of racism and housing instability in Boston.  The Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan, the Church of Our Saviour in Milton and St. Michael's Church in Milton have partnered in worship on special occasions while helping organize local neighborhood conversations about race.  If you're curious about how these and other congregations did it, let our subcommittee connect you to them to learn more. 

Other communities are taking direct action to make racial justice a reality.  Working in partnership with the diocesan staff missioner for networking and formation, our subcommittee will help communities make connections to others with similar interests and challenges, so that antiracism work spreads across eastern Massachusetts.

In the Gospels, Jesus sends his followers out in pairs to do the work of teaching and healing, saying, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Luke 10:2)  The harvest of justice is ripe throughout eastern Massachusetts, as we witness the ways racism continues to cause harm to the Body of Christ.

Our subcommittee seeks to partner with all those in the diocese who want ot bring the kingdom of God, the Beloved Community, near for our neighbors in eastern Massachusetts.  We hope you will join us.

Racial Justice Commission Subcommittee on Fostering Antiracist Episcopal Communities:

Co-Chairs:  Kelsey Rice-Bogdan (Life Together program): kelsey@diomassintern.org
The Rev. Dr. Michael Melendez (St. Stephen's Church, Boston)

Members: The Rev. Ema Rosero-Nordalm, Deborah Gardner Walker (St. Peter's Church, Beverly), The Rev. Jim Kodera (St. Luke's Church, Hudson), The  Rev. Sarah Brock (St. John's Church, Beverly Farms), Angel Figueroa (Episcopal City Mission), Meredith Wade (Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard), Carla Toussaint (Grace Church, Brockton), The Rev. Canon Edie Dolnikowski (staff liaison), The Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher (staff liaison)

Mandate:  Foster active antiracist Episcopal communities, including liturgical practices, formation and seeking justice, with a commitment to providing antiracist, theologically grounded formation offerings for Episcopal congregations and communities; rethinking liturgy through an antiracist lens; and activating congregations to act for racial justice in the world.

Photo by Tim Mossholder  on Unsplash