Racial Justice Committee Receives Competing Funding Resolutions

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The Legislative Committee on Racial Justice and Reconciliation heard testimony on two competing funding proposals for the church’s Becoming Beloved Community initiative at a Zoom hearing on Thursday February 17.

Resolution A100, proposed by the Presiding Officers’ Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation, seeks $400,000  “to make grants to churches, agencies, dioceses” and other church entities “for the work of Becoming Beloved Community.”

Resolution D004, sponsored by the Union of Black Episcopalians, seeks $2 million to implement the church’s efforts” to respond to racial injustice and grow a Beloved Community of healers, justice makers and reconcilers.”

Deputy Dianne Audrick Smith of the Diocese of Ohio said the higher figure was necessary because,  faced with ”a resurgence of white supremacy an anti-immigrant backlash … Episcopal entities must continue to have the resources to engage this work in their contexts.”

The committee also heard testimony on Resolution D006, which would direct the church to award 25 percent of its annual grants “to congregations or organizations that are predominately made up of people of color” and provide “grant-writing resources and other relevant expertise,” to potential applicants.

In supporting the resolution, Deputy Linda Watson-Lorde of the Diocese of Long Island said congregations and organizations led by people of color are frequently overlooked in the churchwide granting processes and are often in a poor position to compete for funds against more affluent institutions.

The committee also heard testimony supporting:

Resolution A50, which would  set aside $25,000 to collaborate with the Equal Justice Initiative on placing historical markers to “honor the lives and work of persons of color who suffered or were killed due to the historical effects of white supremacy;” and on

Resolution D005, which would dedicate $73,800 to implementing the Office of Black Ministries curriculum on internalized oppression, and

Resolution D016 which, among other things, would “encourage the creation of a leadership position in each diocesan administration whose specific role is to address the societal issues that disproportionately affect black and brown people.”

“The lack of clergy of color creates a vacuum from which to draw when filling leadership positions in the Episcopal Church,” said Deputy Joe McDaniel of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast in support D016.

No witness testified against any of the resolutions. In conversations after testimony, committee members asked whether the spending proposals needed to be more specific, whether the funding requests should be gathered under one umbrella and whether the complexity of the church’s grant making process, and the restrictive nature of some of the grants would make it difficult to set aside a specific percentage for congregations and organizations composed primarily of people of color.

Witnesses at the hearing also testified on Resolution A049, A052, A101, and A102.