[Episcopal News Service] The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church began its June meeting with discussions on how racism is confronted inside and outside the Church, including the creation of a new task force who will be responsible for expanding the Church’s field of action. continued anti-racism and reconciliation efforts.
executive counsel, a body of elected representatives of lay churches and clergy who serve as the church’s governing body between General Convention meetings, meets virtually June 25-28. It is chaired by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who opened the meeting by announcing that he and Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council, are forming a working group on Truth and reconciliation for the whole Episcopal Church. The new working group is not intended to replace the existing efforts to tell the truth about its complicity in racism and to dismantle the structures that perpetuate it, but to build on these efforts and extend them to all corners of the church.
“Many dioceses have done this already,” said Curry in his opening speech. “Many congregations, schools, and seminaries have done this – not all, but many have. But now [we have the chance] to do this work of truth and reconciliation… ”at the level of the church“ in all the countries where we are located. To my knowledge, this has never been done before.
“It is an invitation and an opportunity to do the hard and holy work of love. It is an opportunity to do and to model… for the societies in which we live, what we must do to save our souls from the evils of racism, the evils of the supremacy of anyone over anyone.
The task force, said Curry, will be made up of bishops and MPs, some of whom currently sit on the Executive Council’s Committee on Anti-Racism and Reconciliation and the Presidents Advisory Group on Community Implementation. beloved. The group will be invited to develop proposals for the 80th General Convention, scheduled for July 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland, “which will promote and facilitate the convention’s adoption of a plan and path for a process of truth and reconciliation in the Episcopal Church ”. said Curry.
The proposal will include ways to “tell the truth about our collective racial and ethnic history and current realities, to accommodate our church’s historical and current complicity with racial injustice, to commit to righting past wrongs and to right the violations and to discern a vision for healing and reconciliation, ”said Curry. To do this, the group will conduct a review of past and present truth and reconciliation processes within the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and in countries where these churches are present, such as South Africa, Rwanda and New Zealand.
The group will meet in September 2021 and will be invited to submit draft resolutions for the General Convention by March 2022, including budget proposals for the actions it recommends.
“This working group will have the opportunity to propose the creation of opportunities for truth and reconciliation that can inspire the energy, prayers and initiative of Members of Parliament and Bishops across the church while we are in Baltimore.” Jennings added. “I pray that the Holy Spirit will move among us and bring us closer to the painful truth that we must reckon with before we can fully become the church. “
Jennings referred to the episcopal leadership’s racial justice audit, saying progress was being made to include more people of color in the church’s governing bodies.
“We have gone to great lengths to ensure that people of color are leaders on committees dealing with all areas of the church’s mission,” Jennings said. “For example, at [the 2022] Convention, half of the deputies of the Standing Joint Committee on Program, Budget and Finance – the powerful committee which draws on the work of the Executive Council and prepares the final budget of the General Convention, are people of color.
“Ensuring that the legislative committees of the Chamber of Deputies represent a full diversity of the church will not automatically correct the manifestations of structural racism that exist at the General Convention, but I do hope that a more diverse leadership and membership.” legislative committees will help us move forward in eradicating some of the injustice identified by the audit.
72-page audit report highlights nine dominant patterns of racism that were identified in interviews with 1,300 leaders, including bishops, MPs, council members, church staff and diocesan leaders. The full report was delivered to the church in April.
Facilitators from the Institute of Mission, which conducted the audit, presented their findings to the Executive Council at the opening plenary session, the first time the results had been presented to the full Council. Members had the opportunity to ask questions and comment on the audit findings. Among them were the lack of access to power people of color experience in the church and the stress they experience of being held to unreasonable expectations, feeling invisible or hypervishable. Members will discuss their reactions to the report in more detail at committee meetings over the weekend.
Jennings also asked the Joint Standing Committee for Mission in the Episcopal Church to review the work the Church has done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to draft a resolution for the Executive Council to meet. refers to the General Convention for further action.
“Just as the truth and reconciliation initiative must mobilize the church at all levels, working to eliminate our carbon footprint will require a broad grassroots initiative,” she said.
Other topics planned to be discussed during the meeting live plenary sessions include recommendations on how the church can engage in deradicalization, which was raised at the Executive Council meeting in late January following the Jan.6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol, in during which the attackers wore and wore Christian images and symbols of white supremacy. At that meeting, the Executive Council voted to ask the Government Relations Office and Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations “Develop a plan for the Episcopal Church’s holistic response to Christian nationalism and violent white supremacy”.
The Council also received a budget report from Kurt Barnes, the church’s treasurer and financial director, who said income and expenses were on budget, although this does not yet include the distribution of diocesan relief grants. . The church’s reserves and investment portfolio remain strong, he said.
During the afternoon plenary session, leaders from the Diocese of North Texas, formerly the Diocese of Fort Worth, spoke about the diocese’s 12-year legal battle with the Anglican Church in North America and his threat continues to the Episcopal Church. They also heard a presentation from the Development Office, which has formed an advisory committee that helps it grow in its fundraising.
– Egan Millard is associate editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected]