Amid debate on future, Episcopal Church looks back

February 20, 2008

The Church AwakensThe Episcopal Church, at the centre of internal struggles likely to re-shape the worldwide Anglican Communion’s future, is taking time to look at the past. A new permanent on-line exhibit journeys through the history of racism in America, exploring a past the church shared with much of U.S. society from the days of slavery onward.

Bringing back painful memories is deliberate. The Episcopal News Service noted in announcing the exhibit that the church’s General Convention of 1991 urged Episcopalians to conduct “a wide-ranging examination of persistent institutional racism and patterns of forgetting that had overtaken the legacy of the post civil rights period in church and society.”

The Episcopal Church treated African Americans as a problem: Culturally and socially separated and inferior but by baptism, full and equal members of the community. The Church tried to mend this breach by ministering to black Americans separately, consecrating bishops for ‘colored work,’ funding black colleges, establishing black congregations and operating a special office for ‘Negro work.’ In short, the Episcopal church fully embraced the American ‘separate but equal’ construct of race relations..,” the exhibit states.

But if some churches were also a silent partner in perpetuating racism, they also became the fulcrum for change, igniting fires for freedom in the black churches in the South during the 1960s. The new exhibit tells that story as well.

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The main thing to remember is that the Judeo-Christian tradition is based on Protestantism,Catholicism,and Judeaism.One section of the Protestant Church should not be singled out in order to try and solve the problem of racism.

Didn’t know this piece of the Episcopal church history, but it is so interesting. And today, except for an unthinking minority, the Episcopal church stands to be one of the “shots heard round the world” to end discrimination against gay people. I’ve attended one Episcopal service – a “commitment ceremony” – they can’t quite use the term marriage yet, for a friend. He was joined together in what was in every way but the name of the ceremony a marriage to his partner of 4 years. Unfortunately, this marriage still does not bring any of the benefits of legal marriage to this couple.

And I am reminded of a discussion I had with this friend, where he told me that 10 years before, he “held the loaded revolver in his hand, one trigger squeeze away from blowing off his head, so terrified was he of telling his Dad he was gay. And yes at the ceremony was his Dad (Mom had passed away from cancer). friends, co workers, grandparents and other relatives.

And as an American my thanks to Bishop Gene Robinson for all he has done for gay people. He too is a major part of this “shot heard round the world” that will end the terrible shame of the denigration of gay people, and bring an end to the injustice we have in our culture, an injustice all in the name of God.

And I need to make another point to show what a monstrosity homophobia is upon our soul. Recently an ultra-orthodox Jewish member of Israel’s parliament referred to gays as like a bird flu disease. How totally idiotic of this man, who seems to have forgotten that when his relatives, and some of my unknown 2nd or 3rd cousins went up hitler’s smokestacks as ashes, mingled with them were the ashes of Germany’s gays, another group that madman thought were less them human. It forces us to ask if there is hope for the human race in general, or are we just another one of nature’s experiments, some succeed, and some fail.

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