The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta have partnered to create and host a center of expertise focusing on the work of racial healing and its formal dedication ceremony held on October 11, 2017 was a glorious event. The Center for Racial Healing will be based in The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center located on the Moorehouse College Campus in Atlanta.
The new director of the Center for Racial Healing is Dr. Catherine Meeks who is well known not only in The Episcopal Church but across the spectrum of those working to name the sin of racism, face its ugly truth, and to work toward reconciliation.
Following a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the front doors of The Center, all visitors entered the chapel which swelled beyond its capacity. Episcopalians from regions near and far came to mark and support this special occasion. In addition to numerous clergy, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, the bishop of Atlanta, and the Rt. Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe, the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast, Ghana were in attendance and took part in the worship service.
Bishop Rob Wright, lead the entire attendance in the Bidding Prayer as follows:
“Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, we are gathered here today to take the next step in becoming the Beloved Community. The Episcopal Church lent the institution of slavery its support and justification, and, after slavery was abolished, continued to support segregation and discrimination....We repent of our complicity in systems of slavery and oppression, to commit ourselves to opposing the sin of racism in our personal and public lives, and to strive for the creation of The Beloved Community.”
The crowd was then visibly stirred by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's homily which focused on what it takes to create the Beloved Community. He mentioned the revelatory news so many people were discovering when having their DNA examined to learn of their historical roots. So many people learned they were not who they thought they were. And, so many people learned they had far more in common with others whom they previously believed they had nothing in common. In short, we are all inter-connected among all the countries of origin, color of skin, etc. We were all created in the image of God, we are all God’s children and God is our common father. Therefore, we are all related to one another and have a duty to love one another as our savior has loved us. In summary, it is only when we seek the fulfillment to "love like Jesus" will we come closer to creating The Beloved Community, and the establishment of The Center For Racial Healing brings us a little closer to the establishment of such community.
At the invitation of Dr. Meeks, Joe McDaniel (Christ Church, Pensacola) and Gary Moore (St. Paul’s Daphne) attended the ceremony and were blessed to have an extended visit with her before the ceremony. She has been a frequent mentor to them and is supportive of the work going on in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. Also attending from the larger community was Ms. Heidi Kim, the missioner for racial reconciliation, and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism and reconciliation. Colleagues from the Commission on Race Relations in the Diocese of Alabama were also in attendance and a splendid reunion of sorts was enjoyed.
Named for Absalom Jones (who in the early 1800s was the first black priest ordained in the Episcopal Church), The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing will serve as an inter-generational, faith-based organization providing curriculum, activities and experiences to all participants to engage their heads and their hearts in the daily work of dismantling personal prejudice and ending systemic racism.