FAQs about the March 25th Service of Apology – The Future (Part 3 of 3)

What is this all about?” “Why do we need a service of apology?” “Why do we keep digging up the past?” “Why can’t we just let it go?”

These are some of the questions that we, as the people of the Diocese of New York, may be asking ourselves in the lead up to the March 25th Service of Apology.

These questions, and many others like them, are questions that members of the Reparations Commission have also received, and even asked ourselves. We’ve been involved in hundreds of conversations, over decades, about these very subjects. To accompany the Service of Apology, and as an attempt to explain it, we will publish here, over the next two weeks ahead of the Service, our thoughts on some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Do you have a question of your own that you haven’t seen us answer? Or a response you’d like to give? We’d love to hear from you, so we can continue the conversation together. Contact us in the comments section.

Frequently Asked Questions – The Future (Part 3 of 3)


What does this mean for our Diocese, its parishes and people?

A radically different response to harm, indifference, and dehumanization. This is a chance to create and develop relationships for the first time, and repair broken relationships, in the family of God’s people. Such engagement and commitment can lead to forgiveness and a chance to restore our souls.

What are the financial implications of this apology (financial, educational, social, systems disruption, memory, diversity in recruitment, resistance, etc.)? How will this affect the power dynamics in our Diocese?

This apology should open up dialogue that will slowly develop new relationships across broad cross-sections of African American communities, impacted by the complex legacies of slavery – the abuses that have and continue to harm individuals, and our society at large. The apology will lead to a place of wealth distribution which is long overdue. Reparations have always been made to the church,  state and individual property owners, when the enslaved or formerly enslaved were manumitted, or in many instances – stole themselves away from their oppressors, however compensation was never extended to these so-called “bondsmen/women” nor to their descendants. 

Complex political dynamics within this or any institution attempting to bring about transformative change lie behind the framing of reparative responses to these injustices, and efforts to right the wrongs. Slow, deliberative action to gain systems-wide buy-in has helped to propel this initiative to bring about the change. Of course, not everyone is on board; however continued exposure, dialogue and interaction with advocates invested in the reparative processes, may increase the range and measures of supporters. 

Will this work continue with the new Bishop? What is the commitment to this work after Bishop Andy’s apology? Will the work be ongoing?

The apology and reparations work is expected to continue under the new leadership. The assurances from the transition team include developing the work of the diocese through a reparations lens. That means any work to be implemented by the diocese will involve thinking about the challenges reparations are trying to solve. Applying a reparations lens to corporate and individual strategies and approaches to act, give, pray, research, etc. – will be executed to help change the dominant narrative. Working strategically will address the who, what and how to keep the reparations lens in sharp focus and will help with decision making,  garner support, and advocacy for critical restorative action. New practices of shifting authority,  empowerment and agency by ceding power and centering those directly impacted by past harms and continued injustices can lead to resilient communities, shared economic, cultural and social growth.

Is this the end of the road? 

The work of apology is never ending. There will always be moments to lament, apologize and to seek and offer reparations. Four hundred plus years of the church’s complicity with enslavement will not vanish in a brush stroke. Commitment and contrite hearts, turned towards God seeking forgiveness, healing, relationships and restoration, will help to carry us through.

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