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Truth Telling: The communication of what is known or believed to be true without deceit or falseness

Submitted by: Joe McDaniel, Jr., Co-Chair of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central

Gulf Coast’s Commission on Racial Justice & Reconciliation


The following article is taken from the Explanation Section for a Resolution which was introduced and unanimously passed at the Diocese of Alabama’s 191st Annual Convention on February 5, 2022. It is reprinted here with permission. The Explanation resonated with me because it succinctly states why Truth Telling is important in the Ministry of Racial Reconciliation. I hope it likewise resonates with you and brings transformative insight.*


Truth Telling: The communication of what is known or believed to be true without deceit or falseness


In the work of racial reconciliation, the first obstacle to overcome is fear of the truth. For how can we get to reconciliation without knowing the truth? The world recently learned that powerful lesson from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who led his country out of the moral mess that was apartheid by organizing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Following his example, we, …. [the Episcopal Church], are compelled to recognize that the truth of our own history, as a church, as a state, and as a nation, has not been told. We were taught our history almost entirely from the viewpoint of a dominant race, with much omitted from the story. The history that we learned in schools omitted the realities of racial injustice on a massive scale, from slavery to lynching, to segregation, to mass incarceration.


Only now many of us are having to confront our ignorance and even our complicity, with white supremacy as a church and as a people of God. We have been learning painfully of the many ways in which the justice system was used to deprive people of color of the full citizenship promised them by the Constitution.


The response of many to this discovery has been a sadness, a recognition that we were not told the truth about race or race relations in school or in church. But the response of some in positions of power and influence has been fear, expressed as a desire to prevent our schools from teaching this history now because it might make our children feel bad or ashamed. We, the Episcopal … [Church], must lovingly remind our fellow citizens that it is the truth that will make us free, not the suppression of the truth. We are all enslaved to the discomfort of untruth in the name of making ourselves comfortable with injustice.


Telling the truth is hard, but the Scriptures are clear. It was Jesus, standing before the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate, who said: "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." It was also Pilate who asked sarcastically "What is truth?" We speak our truth through the telling of our stories, we hear others truths through listening to their stories. Listening is as important as speaking.


From the House of Bishops Theology Committee Report on White Supremacy -


All Christians need to listen to scripture, to the patristic writings, to our liturgical formulae, and to the stories of the silenced, both in the past and in contemporary society. We must do so in order to better learn the shape, life, and practices of God’s beloved community.


If the Church is to be the beloved community, we must listen to stories from the past that have been omitted from the official record, stories that tell the truth but have never been heard. Archives contain a trove of what has been left out of our narratives. These archived narratives are vibrant stories of real people in marginalized communities – Native American Episcopalians, African American Episcopalians and other Episcopalians of the African diaspora, Asian- American Episcopalians, and Latinx and Latin American Episcopalians – and the efforts they undertook to remain faithful members of the Body of Christ. The whole Church, and especially its white members must listen to these voices and these stories, the songs, the pain, and the hope of these communities, as legitimate components of the church’s narrative, not as footnotes to the “official version” of Episcopal history.


Our archives – both the Church Archives in Austin, Texas and the archives in dioceses and parishes across the country – are full of similarly rich stories that can change our understanding of ourselves as a Church. These archives are a trove of what has been left out of the prevailing narratives. If we are to be reconciled into the beloved community, we must listen to these stories from the past that have been omitted from the official record, stories that tell the truth but have never been heard before. 1



1 https://www.episcopalchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/11/bbc_hob_theo_cmte_report_on_white_supremacy.pdf



Respectfully submitted by

Joe McDaniel, Jr.

Co-Chair The Episcopal Diocese of The Central

Gulf Coast’s Commission on Racial Justice & Reconciliation


*Reprinted with permission by original authors, Rev. Carolyn J. Foster, Deacon and Rev. Tom Osborne - co-chairs of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama's Commission on Truth, Justice and Racial Reconciliation.

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