Racial Justice & Reconciliation
It is our unity in Christ that powers the efforts of the Episcopal Church to continue its ongoing efforts to combat the sin of racism. Racism is an affliction that sickens us as a community and as individuals. It is still alive and well. We see the effects of racism reflected in all aspects of society. Through resolutions passed nationally and in North Carolina, The Episcopal Church has extolled a consistent message to its churches, clergy, and parishioners to educate themselves and to take action to eliminate racism wherever it exists— in our institutions, communities, churches and ourselves. Much progress has been made but there is still work to be done to achieve the biblical imperative of unity in Christ.
The Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee (RJRC) is the body responsible for identifying the needs and potential solutions pertaining to racial inequities and white supremacy in the Diocese and in our churches. Some of their recommended programs are highlighted below.
DIOCESAN ANTI-RACISM TRAINING
The RJRC recently updated, redesigned and renamed “Seeing the Face of God,” the previous diocesan anti-racism training program. A partnership among diocesan staff, the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee and notable consultants such as Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center in Atlanta, the new “Dismantling Racism: Reclaiming Our Baptismal Promise” is an interactive workshop designed to deepen spiritual commitment to dismantling racism as participants in the Jesus Movement. Through presentations, prayer, story sharing, videos and small group discussion, participants explore how the sin of racism impacts all lives.
See sidebar for upcoming sessions.
The youth department recently launched a youth version of Dismantling Racism.
BECOMING AN ANTI-RACIST CHURCH CURRICULUM
“Becoming an Anti-Racist Church” is a new mini-course designed to give participants a chance to review and unpack the concepts and vocabulary introduced in the two-day Racial Equity Institute (REI) Phase I anti-racism workshop. It has also been modified to allow participation from those who have not attended the REI training. The curriculum was developed and is offered by Episcopalians United Against Racism, a collaborative partnership that includes the diocesan Bishop’s Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation.
DIOCESAN-WIDE BOOK STUDY
As part of our ongoing commitment toward Becoming Beloved Community, all people and communities of the Diocese of North Carolina were invited to read Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited or Debby Irving’s Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race during the season of Lent. Both books invite self-examination and reflection about how racism continues to work against the dream of God and our call to love others and strive for justice and peace among all people. There are study and discussion guides available for both books that can easily be used to create a meaningful formation series any time of the year. The hope is that reading these books will spark conversations within churches and local communities and create a catalyst for building deeper relationships around racial healing and reconciliation.
SUBSIDIES FOR REI TRAININGS
Racial Equity Institute (REI) Training provides an analysis of race and racism from a systems perspective. That is, it addresses racism not only from the standpoint of individual bias, but also by examining the historical roots of racism as it affects institutions—the church, education, health care, criminal justice, etc., and what effect that has on the opportunities that white people and people of color have. Although this is a secular training, people of faith are well-represented in each training, and conversations during the training address religious issues.
The Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee (RJRC) of the Diocese encourages each parish to have one or more members—clergy or lay—attend this training as a way to “seed” an understanding of racism from this perspective, and to have a common vocabulary and approach throughout the Diocese. To help defray the cost of the training, the Diocese, through the RJRC is offering subsidies to parishioners to attend.
GO SPEAK: RECONCILIATION EDITION
Recognizing our church’s priority to engage in acts of racial reconciliation, the Go Speak: Reconciliation Edition deck encourages individuals to share their own experiences with racism and white supremacy in groups as we respond to our Christian call “to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)
JOIN THE COMMITTEE
The Diocese needs the help of all of its members to help eradicate the problem of racism in our diocese. We need passionate individuals who want to make a difference by helping the diocesan Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee embrace the just cause of eradicating racism. All ages and ethnicities are welcome to join the committees' efforts. Let Bishop Sam Rodman know that you are interested in being appointed to the committee.
If you cannot commit to being a member of the committee, consider signing on as a Friend of the Committee. You will receive information about all meetings and calls and will be able to participate as your schedule allows.
If you are interested in being listed as a Friend of the Committee, contact the co-chairs, DeDreana Freeman and Chris Coby. You can also engage in the committee's work by following them on Facebook.