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.

FAQs about the March 25th Service of Apology – The Legacy (Part 2 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 Legacy (Part 2 of 3)


How have we arrived at this point?

As the story of the church’s entanglement in the Transatlantic practice of enslaving and profiting off the free labor of African people continues to unfold, the moment has come for the EDNY, and the Church in general to lament, repent and take intentional action for restorative justice. Much of this work begins with acknowledging the transgression, owning it, claiming it, processing the what and why, and working towards a heartfelt apology. We can’t expect forgiveness simply because of this gesture, but we can continue to explore the role of the church’s complicity to gain a richer understanding – through strength, truth and integrity – to bolster the trust and faithfulness of our God of justice. 

Why do we need to dredge up the past?

Oppression, power, the legacies of slavery are present in contemporary life – through systems and in our institutions. The vestiges of slavery – the inequities and injustices – appear in the forms of housing, education, healthcare, labor and economic disparities, law enforcement and in our criminal justice systems. History sets the context for the present, which makes this question challenging for many people who find it difficult to connect past events to the present, and see cause and effect. For some people, it is easiest to try to forget or ignore the sins and mistakes of the past. For others, especially those whose ancestors were harmed, or who suffer the modern consequences of the sins of slavery and racism, it is impossible to move forward and heal without first addressing the past.

FAQs about the March 25th Service of Apology – The Present (Part 1 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 Present (Part 1 of 3)

What do you mean when you refer to “reparations”?

Since its founding, the Reparations Commission has adopted this working definition of “reparations” to describe the work we are doing together: 

Reparations is the process to remember, repair, restore, reconcile and make amends for wrongs that can never be singularly reducible to monetary terms. The process of reparations is “an historical reckoning involving acknowledgement that an offense against humanity was committed and that the victims have not received justice.*”

*Passage in quotes offered by Bernice Powell Jackson, Executive Minister for Justice Ministry, The United Church of Christ.

The Reparations Commission does not see “reparations” as simply a discussion about finances, although that can be part of it. We stress that reparations cannot be properly addressed until the truth has been told in all its fullness, the pain and loss has been lamented and justice is sought.

What is the “apology service” and what will happen during the service?  

The “apology service” will take place on Saturday, March 25th, 2023, 12 noon  – 2 pm Eastern at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The service will be celebrated by the Bishop Diocesan of New York, The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche, with the participation of the people of the Diocese of New York and the support of the Reparations Commission on Slavery. March 25th is a significant date in that it is recognized as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

As a feast day, we will commemorate the Feast of the Annunciation. This is the day that the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to Jesus Christ. From this event, we as Christians learn to be prepared to be used by God in amazing ways; to put our faith in the Lord, and to live life in the service of God. Such tenets are befitting for a Service of Apology for the Slavery and its legacies. 

Why is it necessary to have an apology by the Bishop of New York? Why now?

While this will not be the first apology made by Episcopal religious leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of New York (see, for example, Bishop Catherine Roskam’s personal apology in 2008), this is the first apology, to our knowledge, made by the Bishop Diocesan of the Diocese of New York. It is also a means to respond to the three churchwide General Convention Resolutions of 2006 calling on dioceses to respond to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its aftermath of segregation and discrimination, and symbolizes the episcopal authority invested in this apology on behalf of the people of the Diocese of New York. 

Why does this Bishop have to make an apology? 

Since 2006, the Diocese of New York has been taking part in the churchwide process of racial reconciliation led by its Social Concerns Commission and by the establishment of the Reparations Committee, and in response to three General Convention resolutions presented at the 75th Diocesan Convention, calling on dioceses to critically examine the church’s culpability in the Transatlantic slave trade and its aftermath. 

In 2017, the Reparations Commission approached Bishop Dietsche about making an apology on behalf of the Diocese. The Bishop felt it was important to have a wider backing by the people of the Diocese, and recommended that the Reparations Committee (as it was known then) develop its grassroots work to gain the support of a wider group within the Diocese. In response, the Committee launched its three-year plan of Lamentation – Apology – Reparations in 2018. Along the way, many more people were educated and became aware of the role and complicity of the Diocese – its individuals, parishes, seminaries and diocesan institutions – in the transatlantic slave trade. 

Several years after the launch of its plan for Lamentation – Apology – Reparations, having seen more support from the people of the Diocese in anti-racism and reparations activities, and with Bishop Dietsche scheduled to retire in 2024 from his position as Bishop Diocesan, it felt right for both the Reparations Commission and the Bishop to return to this request and see the Diocese through to the place of formal apology, so that the work of reparations, already begun, could continue to deepen even as we continue to pursue the holy work – never done – of lamentation and apology. 

Who else is doing this work within faith-based communities? 

Racial reconciliation and reparations processes to document, acknowledge and make amends for the historic transatlantic slave trade and its modern day consequences are taking place in many faith-based communities, and both Christian and interfaith denominations and religious confessions. 

What’s in it for me?

A sacred opportunity to participate directly, to confess our collective sins and seek forgiveness from each other, in a solemn, historic moment of healing, reconciliation and repair in our common life in the Diocese of New York. 

How is this a part of your faith-based, daily lived experience and not just some prayers or a one-off announcement? How does this get implemented into the structure of the church’s work?

The apology that we seek is two-fold, Institutional and Personal. Guilty of corporate sin, In order for the church to move forward with faith, the church must foremost put its sin behind, and that can only occur through Institutional apology. Likewise, the need for Personal apology stems from our personal sins in relationship to slavery for which we are called to apologize. Perhaps the greatest thing that we can individually apologize for is our desire not to know about it. 

What are you actually doing to change the hearts of people in the Diocese of New York? Is this a model for other faith-based communities across the country?

When we have presented evidence of the ongoing effects today of past slavery yet choose to say, “That was then; it means nothing today,” we choose the sin of refusing to connect the dots. When we decide not to teach our children about the truth of slavery – the past and present effects on people within our society – we choose to perpetuate those effects into the future. To that end, we are helping people of the Diocese take incremental steps that help to 1) Name the sin, 2) Own one’s part in it by accepting the responsibility, 3) Express remorse for the sin and one’s role and for the harm it did, 4) Make amends in which we help to repair the damage to the extent possible, and 5) Commit to living and doing differently so that it doesn’t happen again. We change hearts and minds by doing honest and hard work.

What resources are being developed around this work? 

Within the Diocese of New York, the Reparations Commission has developed multiple resources over the years which are included on the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s webpage and the Reparations Commission’s website. These include workshops and webinars, bibliographies and book lists, sermons and liturgical toolkits, and more. 

Is this a healing event? A reckoning? Are we expecting to go out as healed and renewed evangelists into the world? 

This is one of many efforts to move the Episcopal Diocese of New York toward racial repair and healing. It is our commitment guided by God’s love to seek out justice and lasting collective and individual change. The work is on-going, centered by the principles of truth, integrity, justice and, ultimately, transformation.  The healing and reckoning is not possible without adapting and living into these principles, in order to repair the breach that started with slavery and the dehumanization of people of African heritage. The harm and pain persevere, but now is the time to make a concerted effort to make amends. In doing so, we hope to be set forth as a people, forgiven, healed and unified and renewed. And though healing doesn’t make us whole – it does reconnect us with the feeling of being whole again.

If Jesus died for our sins, hasn’t this been taken care of already?

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, God incarnate who descended to live among us, was crucified once and for all for our collective sins, was resurrected and sits at the right hand of God in glory. While it is true that Jesus has already done the act of saving us, we are still called upon to confess our sins to God, seek God’s forgiveness, and reconcile with our neighbor. So, it is always appropriate to move towards humility, self-examination, confession and restoration in our walk with God and our neighbor.  

Why and how do Episcopalians engage with reparations in the Diocese of New York? 

In fall 2022, the delegates of the 245th Convention of The Episcopal Diocese of New York authorized the establishment of a new corporation for the purpose of holding the corpus of funds received and identified for the purpose of reparations for the enslavement of African Americans and its aftermath. In studying optimal criteria for the Reparations Fund, the diocesan Reparations Commission discussed at length many approaches and strategies being pursued by parishes, other dioceses, and similar organizations. It engaged in deep, prayerful deliberations on the importance of this work and unanimously agreed that in order to achieve its mandate a 501(c)(3) organization should be established. In addition to establishing this organization for the allocation of funds as a grant making body, EDNY sponsors workshops, film screenings, book discussions, pilgrimages, teach-ins and more, to create meaningful dialogue and understanding of race, racism, and pathways to apology and reparations.

How are you inviting the secular community in this conversation and space?

The secular community is invited to join us on this journey to teach and to learn how we can be in responsible, caring and loving community with one another. Our programs are open to all who seek to engage in this intentional work towards breaking down the barriers that divide us. Moreover, once the fund is in operation, interested parties – organizations and individuals who have a like-minded desire to advance the purpose of justice and equity – are invited to make financial contributions. 

How are you involving actual descendants of African enslaved people in this process? 

By centering the descendant community in conversations to guide the processes of apology and reparations, we’re reaching out, and listening to what the needs are in their communities, rather than imposing our views, understandings  and will upon them. We are also working in collaboration with our newly formed credit union, and to help combat environmental racism, integrating the descendant community in the efforts of creation care.

Bishop Mary Glasspool invites and explains: Why the Diocese of New York’s complicity calls for apology

As the Service of Apology in the Diocese of New York on March 25th approaches, we are pleased to share below a video in which Bishop Mary Glasspool explains the necessity and importance of this Service of Apology and the ongoing work of atonement and action to repent of our sins. Watch here, and share the link with your networks. We hope you will join in the service on March 25th.

Our Reparations Commission co-chairs, The Reverend Richard Witt and Cynthia Copeland, added this message for the clergy of the Diocese:

“[We] hope that you are getting several communications regarding the Service of Apology on Saturday March 25th at the Cathedral.  Below is an invitation from Bishop Glasspool.  The reason for the multiple notices is to underscore the importance of all of our participation in joining with Bishop Dietsche to apologize.  Our apology as a Diocese will have more power and resonance if there are many of us present.  On behalf of the Reparations Commission, We ask you to join.”


We are Complicit: Join the Diocese of New York in a solemn Service of Apology

A solemn full eucharistic prayer service that will include readings, music, dance, a sermon, an official Apology given by the Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and a special pre-recorded message by Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry.  The in-person service begins at noon on Saturday, 25 March, and will be live streamed.

Join the Episcopal Diocese of New York in a solemn and sacred service of apology :

We Are Complicit:

The Diocese Apologizes

for the Endurance of Slavery

Saturday, March 25 at 12:00 noon

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

1047 Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th Street


The service will be streamed live on the Cathedral’s website,

Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

Building a New Foundation for Repair

The Diocese of New York, in partnership with its Reparations Commission, took significant steps at its Diocesan Convention this fall to move towards a new phase in its movement to repair and make amends for its history of complicity with slavery.

The Convention roll-outs set the scene, with a specific roll-out on October 26th dedicated to Reparations. Following a video presentation, Reparations Commission members Diane Pollard and Waddell Stillman set out the points in favor of a resolution to establish a new foundation to administer the funds set aside by Bishop Andrew Dietsche and the Diocese. In case you missed it, watch the roll-out presentation here.

Thankfully, the resolution passed at the November Diocesan Convention, and thus a new 501c3 foundation will take form in the next year to serve as a container for existing and future funds for racial reconciliation and reparations work in our Diocese.

Also high on our fall agenda was the election of the Bishop Co-Adjutor on December 3rd. The Commission expresses its support and assurances of its members’ prayers for The Reverend Matt Heyd, elected and to be consecrated in 2023. Having worked with Matt+ on several webinars and other events related to racial reconciliation, the Commission members are confident that the diocesan commitment to reparations and anti-racism will continue to expand and deepen in this next episcopal phase of the Diocese of New York.

As Advent is upon us and the end of the year approaches, we give thanks for the growing awareness and willingness of our diocese’s members to face head on the cry for justice for our enslaved ancestors, and our present-day siblings who bear the brunt of our past sins. For them, we pray for continued justice and repair, in the name of the One who died for our sins, redeems us all and calls us to truth, justice and peace.

Prepare to Repair: Reparations Commission preps for significant steps in Diocesan history of reconciliation and reparations

Reparations Commission members, back row L to R: Rev. Allison Moore, Dr. Nell Gibson, Rev. Trevor Babb. Front row L to R: Lynnaia Main, Diane Pollard, Carla Burns, Wendy Cañas, Cynthia Copeland (Co-Chair), Bishop Mary Glasspool, Waddell Stillman. Other members not pictured: Rev. Chuck Kramer, Rev. Astrid Storm, Rev. Richard Witt (Co-Chair).

By: Lynnaia Main, Eglise française du Saint Esprit and Reparations Commission member

With a plentiful member turnout and a full plate of opportunities, the Reparations Commission convened in July for two days for its annual summer retreat at peaceful Mariandale Center in upstate New York. On the agenda: frank discussions about marketing and communications needs, plans for workshops highlighting the Commission’s work over the years, pre-Convention rollouts and the upcoming Convention presence in November, an upcoming resolution fleshing out the workings of the Reparations Fund, and conversations about future liturgies for apology and other worship services.

One priority the Reparations Commission determined is our need and desire to share what we have learned thus far about truth-telling, reparations and reconciliation, as we continue to build from this foundation of work. We, and the Diocese, need to reflect on what we think about this process thus far, to inform why and how we should be moving forward. We need a plan for better communicating and sharing stories about our work over the years, and our work to come.

The Commission has organized many activities over the years to enable us to seize this moment: research on slavery in the Diocese; archiving workshops; pilgrimages to sites of historical significance; organized diocesan trips to view the annual Ma’afa commemoration at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn; a presentation on John Jay to Diocesan Convention; launch of a dedicated online blog and communal prayer space; a completely new play, A New York Lamentation, written by a member of the Reparations Commission; film screenings and book clubs; organized retreats to reflect on Apology; “Knee on My Neck” and “Voices Heard” webinar series; compilation of a liturgical toolkit containing worship resources and prayers; and ever more ideas are in the works.

We reflected that our responsiveness to unfolding current events has helped us meet the needs of the Diocese, and influence other groups doing reparations and reconciliation work, evidenced by our members’ encounters at Episcopal meetings and queries from interested groups in other dioceses.

In telling the full story of what we’ve done, we know we need to ride the waves of this hunger for action, even as we recognize the ebb and flow with the current events and needs of our times. Needs in society that we hope to point out, with dignity, for all concerned, in the hopes that the Reparations Fund will fulfill them.

The Reparations Fund and its mission, the criteria for the use of the funds, the design and architecture for its functioning, its system of administration and governance were a significant focus at the retreat and the results will inform the resolution to Diocesan Convention in November. While the resolution will fully present the proposal, we can say now that the Fund will operate according to a reparations lens, with operational principles drawing from the Apology statement, our Four Principles and core values (truth, integrity, justice, transformation), our cyclical programmatic process (Lamentation, Apology, Reparations) and past years’ diocesan resolutions.

An additional focus of our agenda was the preparation for a formal apology and accompanying worship service in future years.

Finally, the Commission watched the film Who We Are, directed by Jeffrey Robinson, and consider the possibilities of bringing screenings to the diocese in 2023.  

As we all prepare for Diocesan Convention 2022 and beyond, the Reparations Commission invites you to join us in prayers most especially for those who live daily the painful legacy of slavery and racism, for the people of the Diocese of New York as we prepare our hearts and minds for Convention, and for the Reparations Commission’s members in their roles to educate, guide and prepare the Diocese for the ongoing work of Lamentation, Apology and Reparations.

We hope you will join us for our virtual Diocesan roll-out in October, at a date to be announced as soon as it becomes available.

Women Witnesses: Contributors to racial justice in the United States named in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses (GCW)”

By: The Reverend Dr. Allison Moore, St Andrew’s, New Paltz and Reparations Committee member

February is African-American history month, thanks to Carter G. Woodson and a host of educators.  March is Women’s “herstory” month, thanks to Russian women who gained the right to vote in February, 1917 and promptly declared March 8 a day to celebrate women’s rights.  Many Episcopal congregations honor African-American history (we can always do better), but in March, the church moves into Lent, and we tend to celebrate women’s herstory primarily with commemorations of saints. 

I want then to focus on women listed in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (GCW) who contributed to racial justice in the United States.  What strikes me is the multitude of avenues we have for promoting the well-being of all women, especially women of color.  I’ve been praying for how to use my particular social location–priest and campus minister in New Paltz, well educated financially secure white woman, disciple of Jesus and lover of God—and my Spirit-given gifts to work towards reparation. All too often we lament our lack of money, knowledge, time, power to make much change.  Those lamentations sell ourselves and God short. People, even those facing the fiercest barriers of structural oppression, have God-given power and an ability to use wherever and whoever they are for greater justice.   The women listed here kept making “a way out of no way.” None of them were perfect, probably limited by personal prejudices and understandings of their time.  That’s a relief, because none of us are perfect either!  We can apply their methods and pray for their faithfulness to our own situations now. 

This year the Reparations Committee is developing criteria for how to use the diocesan Reparations Fund for financial reparations. We have a plethora of models in this book for how to move towards greater racial justice; it’s up to us to imagine what money might do to repair the damage of enslavement and its legacy.  Here is just a sentence or two, often taken almost verbatim from GCW, organized by calendar year—see how this might contribute to daily readings or congregational life! 

  • January 4th: Elizabeth Seton, Founder of American Sisters of Charity, 1821 whose work “intertwined social ministry, education, and religious formation” in orphanages and “schools for needy girls.”
  • January 8th: Harriet Bedell, Deaconess and Missionary, 1969, who “won the respect of igneousous people through her compassion and respect for their way of life and beliefs.” She worked and lived with the Cheyenne, indigenous people in Allakekat in the Artic Circle, and Mikasuki Indians in Florida. 
  • January 9th: Julia Chester Emery, Missionary, 1922, Secretary of Woman’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions, who traveled across the nation and around the world.  She wrote that she went forth with ”hope for enlargement of vision, opening up new occasions for service, acceptance of new tasks.” 
  • February 5th: Anne Hutchinson (with Roger Wiliams), Prophetic Witnesses, 1643, “outspoken advocate of the rights and equality of women” who challenged religious and civil authorities. 
  • February 11th: Frances Jane (Fanny) Van Alstyne Crosby, Hymnwriter, 1915—her hymns, including Blessed Assurance, expressed personal faith in simple and easily learned tunes. 
  • February 26th: Emily Malbone Morgan, Prophetic Witness, 1937, founder with Harriet Hastings of the Companions of the Holy Cross.  The Companions were a strong force for social justice reform.  They also developed summer vacation houses for working women and their daughters who sought physical and spiritual renewal. 
  • February 28th: Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, 1964, Educator. Anna Cooper organized the Colored Women’s League and the first Colored Settlement House in Washington, DC, and in her book A View from the South challenged the Episcopal Church to do more work towards racial justice.   
  • February 28th: Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, 1904, Educator of African American and Cherokee descent.  She graduated from Tuskegee, faced fierce resistance in initial attempt in Hampton County, South Carolina, to establish a school for rural black children.  She moved to Denmark, South Carolina, and founded the Denmark Industrial Institute which eventually became Voorhees College. 
  • April 8th: Anne Ayres, Religious, 1896 (with William Augustus Muhlenberg), founder of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion and St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. 
  • April 16th: Mary (Molly) Brant (Konwatsijayenni), 1796, Witness to the Faith among the Mohawks, 1796, exerted influence among the British and the Mohawks, in tribal councils and treaty efforts. 
  • April 30th: Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, Editor and Prophetic Witness, 1879. Her books and newspaper articles consistently “promoted concern for women’s health, property rights, and opportunities for public recognition.” Her dedication to equal education for women led her to help found Vassar College. 
  • May 7th: Harriet Starr Cannon, Religious, 1896, founder of the Community of St. Mary, whose ministry focused “on the care of women who had endured difficult circumstances” and schools  and orphanages for girls. 
  • May 13th: Frances Perkins, Public Servant and Prophetic Witness, 1965. Her advocacy for industrial safety and labor law reform led Franklin Roosevelt to appoint her Secretary of Labor.  In that role she was a major shaper of New Deal legislation and Social Security. 
  • June 19th: Adelaide Teague Case, 1948, Teacher and first full time female professor at any Episcopal Seminary, ETS in Cambridge.  Her professional work focused on child-centered education.  She was a pacifist, member of Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship, and proponent of women’s ordination. 
  • July 1st: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Writer and Prophetic Witness, 1896, whose writings and anti-enslavement work brought attention to the evils of slavery to the US, Britain, Europe, and Russia. 
  • July 1st: Pauli Murray, Priest, 1985.  And activist, and lawyer, whose research  laid the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education and later Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s work of women’s equality under the law.  She was clear that work for racial justice and women’s justice were intertwined. 
  • July 20th: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Liberator and Prophet, 1902, organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY and devoted her life to criticizing the church for its use of patriarchal doctrine and practices to oppress women, and criticizing society for “denying women equal access to professional jobs, property ownership, the vote,” and equal pay.  She hesitated however to embrace racial equality. 
  • July 20th: Amelia Bloomer, Liberator and Prophet,1894, was known for the pants that bear her name and for founding churches, libraries and school houses in Iowa. 
  • July 20th: Sojourner Truth, Liberator and Prophet, 1883, traveling preacher and fierce advocate for rights of African Americans and all women, not only white women (a critique of women’s suffrage movement). 
  • July 20th: Harriet Ross Tubman, Liberator and Prophet, 1913, who helped organize the Underground Railroad and led 300 black Union troops on raid to free over 750 enslaved people, the first American woman to lead troops into military action. 
  • August 18th: Artemisia Bowden, 1969, Educator, led the St. Philip’s Vocational Day School for Colored Children in San Antonio, Texax, for over fifty years, as it became a fully accredited junior college.  Her membership in many social causes intertwined work for racial justice, women’s welfare, and Christian-Jewish dialogue. 
  • September 3rd: Prudence Crandall, Teacher and Prophetic Witness, 1890.  She founded a school for African-American girls in Connecticut that encountered fierce resistance—state law eventually made educating girls from any state other than Connecticut a crime, for which she was tried and convicted.  Harassment continued until she moved to Illinois. 
  • September 24th: Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, 1947, first African American deaconess in the Episcopal Church.  She founded Good Shepherd church in southern Georgia, but the Diocese of Georgia segregated her congregations and refused admission to diocesan convention.   
  • October 10th: Vida Dutton Scudder, Educator and Witness for Peace, 1954, founded a settlement house in Boston for immigrant women, worked with the Society of Christian Socialists, supported the Lawrence, MA textile workers’ strike in 1912, and became a firm pacifist by 1930. 

Here are a few other women I would suggest as models of Christian faith and witness in the struggle for justice in the US, with one of many links for each: who would you add? 

Mary McLeod Bethune, 1875-1955, Educator, activist, government leader in FDR’s administration, founder of many social and political organizations which worked for voting rights for all people. 

Anne Braden 1924-2006, Louisville journalist, organizer, and educator who was among the earliest and most dedicated white allies of the southern civil rights movement. 

Juliette Hampton Morgan,  1914-1957 Memphis resident, librarian, and activist who loudly protested the treatment of African Americans in Montgomery before the bus boycott, and received constant threats and harassment. 

Margaret Morgan Lawrence, 1914-2019, a child psychiatrist, educator, and activist –thefirst African American woman in too many medical arenas, founder of child therapy programs in schools, hospitals, and day care center. 

Ida B Wells-Barnett, 1862-1931, journalist, activist, and researcher.  Her consistent reporting and documenting of lynching, including her critique of white women suffragists who refused to acknowledge its evil, brought her violent attacks, the burning of her printing press, and ridicule in the press. 

Living in the Four Values of Reparations

By: The Reverend Chuck Kramer, Interim at St. Andrew’s Walden and St. Francis of Assisi, Montgomery and Reparations Committee member

The Reverend Chuck Kramer explains, in this text, the Four Values that the Reparations Committee adopted in 2021 to guide its work with the Diocese of New York’s Reparations Fund. The Four Values were presented and adopted at the 2021 Diocesan Convention as a guiding principle for moving forward in reparations.

Over the past few years, the Diocese of New York has been wrestling with its role in the history of slavery and its lasting, sordid, impact on present society.

We have studied the history, lamented our role in it, repented of the evils of both slavery and the underlying racism, and committed to a new way. Now we are working on repairing the deep and lasting damage of this particular form of racism.

But in order to effectively work toward repair, toward meaningful reparation, we need principles or values to guide us. Our number one value, it should go without saying, is love.

As our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry has told us “If it is not about love, then it’s not about God.”

But the Reparations Committee discerned four other values we feel are important to moving forward. They are Truth, Justice, Integrity, and Transformation:

That is, in order for there to be Reparation, we must tell the truth.  In order for there to be real Reparation, we must seek justice for all. In order for there to be Reparation we must pursue it with integrity. And in order for Reparation to truly happen, we must be open to transformation not only for ourselves individually but for society collectively.

You might say, “If it’s not about Truth, Justice, Integrity, and Transformation, then it’s not about Reparation.”

Truth as a Value for Reparation means speaking the truth. It means facing squarely and unwaveringly what was, what is, and God calls us to be. It means not hiding from history or glossing over it but learning from it — what not to do as well as what to do.

Justice as a Value for Reparation is more than simply penalizing those who do wrong  or giving some form of payment to those who have been wronged. Justiceishealing. Justice is not about revenge but about changing the power dynamic away from whiteness as the pinnacle. Justice is getting to Right Relationship in which all people see themselves and each other as equal and equally beloved children of God. And Justice is when we treat each other accordingly.

Integrity as a Value for Reparation means internal consistency. It implies wholeness and honesty. It implies a sense of “What you see is what you get.” Integrity is a crucial value for Reparation because it requires us to know who we are as God’s Beloved Community. It requires us to look deeply at ourselves, our words, and our actions and ensure that they match. It may mean recognizing individual fault, apologizing, and committing to repair the harm. Integrity is a corrective to stubbornness and to being held captive by past teaching or tradition. It is the act of living into our better angels.

Transformation as a Value for Reparation means growing into God’s Truth, into God’s Faith, Hope, and Love. Repair cannot happen until we are transformed as individuals, as community — especially as the Church — and in relationship to God. We recognize that while changing laws and policies may be necessary, this alone will not repair the breach, the deep gash in the tapestry of God’s vision for us. For that to happen, we must be changed. That is why the work of reparation is necessarily a spiritual discipline.  Nobody and no society can be just, equal, and fair unless they want to be — and that will not be possible without a transformation, a conversion, in the hearts not only of individuals, but of our entire society.

These values will guide us as we, the Diocese of New York, seek to repair at least some of the harm caused by slavery and the insidious racism that followed. We know we can’t fix everything, but we are committed to healing what we can.

New Year 2022: pandemic perils, reparations progress

Happy New Year from the Reparations Committee! May God continually bless you and yours with perfect purpose, health and happiness.

Nearly two years after the SARS-COV19 pandemic began, we Reparations Committee members imagine that you, too, are sick of being sick. Despite the tremendous promise and delivery of 2021’s miracle vaccines, the pandemic we longed to see end has…not. Our plans to resume our in-person monthly committee meetings at the Cathedral have been stymied once again. Our work continues remotely. And yet, as our Nehemiah reading from this Epiphany III Sunday reminds us, “do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Zoomed out though we may feel, we are zooming in on our Reparations plans as 2022 unfurls. We are preparing a mini-retreat to propose recommendations for the Reparations Fund and pray that, a year from now, Diocesan Convention 2022 will have endorsed our recommendations. We are recruiting a Committee fellow to gather and share the many stories the Diocese has collected through individuals and parishes. We are considering content for a new DVD or film to complement our excellent 2008 version. We envision a fresh Voices Heard series on voting rights and colorism. You, our diocesan partners, are central to our minds and hearts in all of this, and we hope to hear from you on your ideas for next steps.

Parallel to this work are our plans to continue our ongoing learning and education. Here are a few of the titles we’re considering for our reading – privately, in groups, for future retreats, meditations, toolkits. Please join us, share your own titles, send us your book reviews and reactions, stories of how you are incorporating reading into your reparations reflections:

The 1619 Project.

A Racial and Latinx History of the US.

Begin Again. Eric Glaud.

Caste. Isabel Wilkerson.

How the Word is Passed. Clint Smith.

Just Us. Claudia Rankin.

The Lessons of Ubuntu. Mark Mantobani.

Let’s Talk Race: A Guide for White People.

My Time Will Come. Ian Manuel.

Nothing but Freedom, Emancipation and Its Legacy. Eric Phomer.

Resurrection Hope. Kelly Brown Douglas.

The Second Founding.

The Sum of Us. Heather McGee.

Walk With Me (Bio on Fannie Lou Hamor). Kate Clifford Laursen.