Becoming the Beloved Community: Reconciliation Work in The Episcopal Church

"The 78th General Convention of our Church did a remarkable thing: the General Convention invited us as a church to take up this Jesus Movement. We made a commitment to live into being the Jesus Movement by committing to evangelism and the work of reconciliation — beginning with racial reconciliation … across the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God. This is difficult work. But we can do it. It’s about listening and sharing. It’s about God.”          ~ Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry 

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 at 3 pm – 3:45 pm Eastern (2 pm Central/1 pm Mountain/noon Pacific/11 am Alaska/10 am 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, 206-399-7771; the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation, 212-716-6086; or the Rev. Charles “Chuck” Wynder, Staff Officer for Social Justice and Advocacy Engagement, 646-584-8112.

Key resources

Becoming Beloved Community Summary

Racial Reconciliation

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