Episcopal Church releases ‘Becoming Beloved Community’ guide for racial reconciliation efforts

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Following a year of listening, consulting and reflection, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and officers of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies are inviting Episcopalians to study and commit to using “Becoming Beloved Community: The Episcopal Church’s Long-term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice.”

The full document is available here. 

“You’re not looking at a set of programs,” Presiding Bishop Curry explained. “You’re looking at a path for how we, as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, can more fully and prayerfully embody the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus in our relationships with each other. Look at the scriptures, at Christian history. There is no doubt that Beloved Community, healing, justice and reconciliation are at the heart of Jesus’ movement in this world.”

 The “Becoming Beloved Community” vision emerges as a direct response to General Convention Resolution C019 (“Establish Response to Systemic Injustice”). The comprehensive commitment – which the Church’s top leaders crafted in partnership with the Presiding Bishop’s staff, key leaders, networks and organizations dedicated to racial reconciliation – links new initiatives with existing, ongoing work and seeks to support and amplify local, regional, provincial and churchwide network efforts. 

Leaders say “Becoming Beloved Community” is designed as a strategic path through distinct phases that lead to personal and structural transformation:

  1. Telling the Truth about the Church and Race, via a census to determine church demographics and a Racial Justice Audit to study the impact of racism on the Church’s leadership, organizations and bodies.
  2. Proclaiming the Dream of Beloved Community, via a series of regional public listening and learning engagements, starting with a partnership at Washington National Cathedral.
  3. Practicing the Way of Love, via a churchwide Beloved Community story-sharing campaign, multilingual and multigenerational formation and training, pilgrimages and liturgical resources.
  4. Repairing the Breach in Institutions and Society, via advocacy for criminal justice reform, re-entry collaboratives shaped by people moving from prison back to community, and partnership with Saint Augustine’s University and Voorhees College (the historically black university and college associated with the Episcopal Church).

Webinar

Presiding Bishop Curry and President Jennings will host a webinar to discuss the Church’s long-term commitment on May 16 from 3 to 3:45 p.m. ET (or at 2 p.m. CT/1 p.m. MT/noon PT/11 a.m. in Alaska/10 a.m. in Hawaii). Link information will be available soon here.

Additional webinars and conversations with specific constituencies will be held in the coming months. Several working groups will be formed to identify and make use of gifts and expertise across the Church. 

Preparing the Becoming Beloved Community

With the passage of Resolution C019, General Convention called on the officers of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to cast a vision for addressing racial injustice and dedicated $2 million to make the plan a reality. In February 2016, Presiding Bishop Curry, President Jennings, House of Bishops Vice Presidents Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real and Dean Wolfe of Kansas, House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing of Massachusetts and General Convention Secretary Michael Barlowe met in Austin, Texas, to begin their work.

Deputy Diane Pollard of New York chaired the House of Deputies Legislative Committee on Social Justice and U.S. Policy, which crafted Resolution C019. “In my humble opinion, this plan represents the all-important ‘starting line’ for what could change our Church,” Pollard said. “We know it will take more than two triennia to make real change – it is a lifelong journey that we must take together. This is how we begin.”

More Info

For more information contact Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation, hkim@episcopalchurch.org, 206-399-7771; the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation, sspellers@episcopalchurch.org, 212-716-6086; or the Rev. Charles “Chuck” Wynder, staff officer for social justice and advocacy engagement, cwynder@episcopalchurch.org, 646-584-8112.

Key resources

Racial Reconciliation

Leaders call on Episcopalians to heal ‘pain of racial injustice, division’

Comments

  1. Tony Oberdorfer says:

    Here we go again. It never ends, does it?

    • Bob Hamilton says:

      That’s because we haven’t figured it out yet! I am grateful that we are still trying. The healing, justice, and reconciliation have to come from a Christ-based position and grounded from His teachings in order to approach what a “Beloved Community” is supposed to look like. I say this with love that we need to stay away from any organization that has it’s own agenda to be hateful and divisive. I am confident that the present Episcopal leadership will come up with the proper and necessary requirements to make an impact within our church that will praise and glorify Christ.

  2. LINDA CLARK says:

    LOVE DONT ALLOW NEGATIUVE CONVERSATION TAKE OVER. AVOID FOOLISH TALKING PRAISE GOD AND ENJOY LIFE. DO NO HARM TOWARD YOUR NEIGBOR. REMEMBER THE THINGS MAN DESSPISE OF GOD APPROVES.

  3. Our church book group is reading, “Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America”, by Catherine Meeks. This book has begun a new conversation among church members.

  4. Craig Kauffman says:

    A former Vicar once told me that his first parish was an African American parish. He told me that he could not believe the light skinned/dark skin African American divisions within his church! I lived in Asia as a teenager. There are prejudices and discrimination among Asians. For example, there are ethnic Koreans who, for example, have lived in Japan for literally more than 500 years who are still discriminated against in Japan. Other ethnic groups worldwide have divisions (Israelis and Palestinians for example). A truly comprehensive “plan” would be to cover ALL types of cultural and racial divisions and prejudices, and mention them forthrightly in the document!

  5. I appreciate our national commitment to this spiritual battle with a peculiar corporate sin. By doing nothing or too little, historically our churches tend to ‘go with the flow’ of institutional racism. By institutional racism, I am not referring to individual racial prejudice against people of color but rather to the church as an institution that has practices and policies that result in de facto segregation and oppression. Or when the corporate body willfully does not see its part in keeping people of color in disadvantaged positions.

    So, practicing the way of love and repairing the breach must teach us how to move beyond our individual stories, book clubs and conversations toward improved outcomes from our church policies, diocesan systems, parish norms and governance by the Vestry. Let’s start with institutional racism realizing that there are intersections with other oppressed populations of people here and across the globe.

    Who in your church or diocese has been trained to facilitate an honest and productive dialogue about race? Who is tracking why the young families of color don’t return and become members? What does your church do for Black History Month? How is your church being a good neighbor to black institutions in your town? Does the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP) have a Program mentoring struggling parishes? How can we change our liturgy to enable our transformation into the Beloved Community?

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