In October, members of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast’s Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation and the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama’s Commission on Truth, Justice and Racial Healing assisted Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings, Secretary to the General Convention Michael Barlowe, Canon for Creation Care, Evangelism and Racial Reconciliation Stephanie Spellers, Social Justice and Engagement Officer Chuck Wynder, and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church (approximately 70 people) for their fall meeting.
Montgomery, Alabama, was chosen as the site for the Executive Council’s meeting for many good reasons, not the least of which was the Equal Justice Initiative’s (“EJI”) new Legacy Museum and National Monument for Peace and Justice. In preparation for the visit, all read Bryan Stevenson’s highly acclaimed book "Just Mercy," and participated in webinars facilitated by Dean Kelly Brown Douglas and Dr. Catherine Meeks.
It was a time of deep, honest reflection of our past racially biased problems and the sins of white supremacy which in many ways still frames our senses, understandings, and misunderstandings about issues in our common lives today.
Alabama’s and the Central Gulf Coast’s commission's members were asked to be the spiritual leaders, facilitators and pilgrimage shepherds on this sacred journey of our church’s leadership. Prior to and following each segment of the pilgrimage, we explored - through meditation, song and prayer - the darkness of the past and the lingering attitudes and prejudices that misshape today’s society: Issues which separate us, prejudices which create a breach in relationship. We all listened for what God was calling us to repent of, be redeemed for and to enter into God’s Just Future, the Beloved Community.
Sacred stations of the pilgrimage included EJI’s Legacy Museum, St. John’s Episcopal Church (Montgomery), EJI’s Memorial for Peace and Justice, and Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (Montgomery) where Bryan Stevenson (executive director of EJI) was keynote speaker. Bishop Russell Kendrick was in attendance for this special gathering. The pilgrimage culminated back at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Sunday morning where Presiding Bishop Curry was the homilist.
Special thanks to the Rev. Deacon Carolyn Foster (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham) for serving as co-leader; to Bishop Kendrick for supporting the effort; to St. James Episcopal Church (Fairhope) for providing the use of their mini-bus - which became the official transportation of Presiding Bishop Curry, President of the House of Deputies Jennings, and additional church missioners, and Executive Council members; to diocesan commission member, Sonja Crawford, for preparing the pilgrimage pamphlet; and to Joe McDaniel, Jr. and Gary Moore for serving as co-leaders and pilgrimage shepherds.
The Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation’s next pilgrimage to Montgomery will be on November 23, in partnership with Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Daphne, Alabama. All are welcome, although seating is limited. $40 per person for transportation and entry tickets. Registration details at https://www.diocgc.org/racial-justice-and-reconciliation.
Photo credit: Gary Moore