The Diocesan Reparations Committee
Collecting and documenting evidence of the benefits derived by the diocese from the institution of slavery
Our definition of Reparations:
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.*”
The New York Diocesan Reparations Committee was created by the 330th Diocesan Convention in response to three 2006 General Convention resolutions calling on dioceses to respond to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its aftermath of segregation and discrimination. The role of the Reparations Committee is to collect and document information on the complicity of the Diocese of New York in the institution of slavery and its subsequent history of segregation and discrimination. The committee will consider the benefits the Episcopal Church derived from the institution of slavery and collect, through documentation and storytelling, information on historical and present-day privilege and under-privilege in order to discern a process toward restorative justice. The Committee’s findings will help to determine whether the diocese is called to conduct a truth and reconciliation process with regard to the legacies of racial discrimination and oppression. In order to facilitate the storytelling and documentation of congregations, the Reparations Committee has produced a DVD for churches called, The Diocese of New York Examines Slavery: Talking About Reparations, Repair and Reconciliation. It is a 30-minute exploration of the Church’s involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Congregations are asked to view the DVD and use it as a guide in helping them examine the history of their church and its connection to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its aftermath of segregation and discrimination – including economic benefits, the establishment of separate chapels for Africans, the seating of Africans in balconies of churches, the construction of churches by enslaved people, the ownership of slaves by early rectors or the work of church abolitionists. Members of the New York Reparations Committee are requesting that congregations examine their histories and send their findings to Committee members in compliance with General Convention Resolution A123.
*Passage in quotes offered by Bernice Powell Jackson, Executive Minister for Justice Ministry, The United Church of Christ.
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