The Episcopal Church has launched an initiative aimed at tackling the issue of advancing racial reconciliation in the United States.
"Part of this work is actually to help to build bridges — bridges that will connect people not only through their stories but in a sustained way over time through relationships that are built," stated Presiding Bishop Michael Curry during a webinar held via Zoom on Thursday.
"Relationships will break the back of racism every time and in the long run, relationship is the key. And this attempt is really trying to foster those relationships. That's a game-changer."
During the webinar, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, identified herself as a "white woman of privilege," explaining that she is "keenly aware" of how she has benefited from "white privilege."
"Over the years what I have tried to do is to make sure that change for which I've advocated wasn't just change that would benefit middle-age white women like me, but would truly bring the church closer to ... the Kingdom of God," said Jennings. "Those of us who live with white privilege have to figure out how we can be allies."
Earlier this month, The Episcopal Church released a guide book titled "Becoming Beloved Community: The Episcopal Church's Long-Term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice" aimed at helping Episcopalians address racial reconciliation.
"If we have ever needed a community of Jesus followers to take up the ministry of reconciliation and healing across the racial borders that mark the human family of God, we need it now," noted the guide book.
"... this work is less about walking a linear path and more about engaging in a reflective, deliberate spiritual practice."
"Becoming Beloved Community" outlined four fundamental aspects of the racial reconciliation process: "Telling the Truth," "Proclaiming the Dream," "Practicing the Way of Love," and "Repairing the Breach."
"We never have the sense that we have mastered or completed any one stage, nor are we naïve enough to imagine anyone ever truly 'finishes' the work. The commitment is long-term; the formation is lifelong," added the guide book.
"We dream of communities where all people may experience dignity and abundant life, and see themselves and others as beloved children of God. We pray for communities that labor so that the flourishing of every person (and all creation) is seen as the hope of each."
The Episcopal Church's initiative comes at a time when other churches and denominations are engaging in programs and ministries aimed at countering racial division within the United States.