Beloved in Jesus,
In early February we pitched the Center for Reconciliation to the New York Times. After months of conversations and two visits from photographers, the story was published in Monday’s (8/24/15) New York Times. The story looks at our history in slavery and the slave trade and discusses what we will be doing with the Center in response to our past. We are excited for this story to run and hope you are as well.
If you have any questions or are asked any questions by parishioners, neighbors, families or friends, please direct them to either Elon Cook, Program Manager for the Center for Reconciliation (email@example.com), Ben Sibielski (firstname.lastname@example.org), Linda Grenz (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
While things may have been seen as quiet, the Center for Reconciliation has come leaps and bounds since the 2014 Diocesan Convention. Following convention I appointed a steering committee that has been meeting regularly since this past January to develop a vision, a mission, goals and guiding principles that would encompass a Center for Reconciliation (CFR).
During the past eight months, the steering committee has been working to build up this center that will be housed in the Cathedral of St. John. Envisioned as part of the CFR will be a restored cathedral for worship services but also that will in time provide for home for a teaching museum or gallery about the slave trade history of Rhode Island, a space for performing arts related to this history, an education and training center for reconcilers and worship that would be both Episcopal and ecumenical.
A separate non-profit organization has been formed, and preliminary work is being done to raise funds for development. The steering committee and board have hired Elon Cook as a part-time project manager for the Center. Elon comes to us following her graduate program at Brown University and brings with her skills learned from time working at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Brown University Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Rhode Island Black Heritage and many other notable places.
We are blessed with many committed volunteers but the work of the project has advanced to the point that we need some professional help. We are coordinating some initial collaborative programs with academic and other nonprofit organizations that we hope to co-sponsor in the fall. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer their time with the Center, please contact Elon. She would be happy to chat with you.
There are several reasons for doing this work. The history of the role of Rhode Island in the slave trade is a complicated subject that deserves continued study because of the implications of its legacy to us and our times. I believe it is important to devote our attention to this effort because we now understand that some of our current economic and societal challenges have their roots in that history. As I reflect on the mission of the Church – to restore all people to unity with God and each other I can think of no more important use of our “restored and repurposed” cathedral than to expand its ministry to include it becoming a Center for Reconciliation.
As further progress is made I want to be sure that you are informed. I invite your comments and support for this major undertaking and I hope you will communicate it to your congregation and seek their support.
With continued blessings to you in your ministry.