Equity and Justice
Our strategic plan identified justice as one of our three primary objectives in ministry over the next five years, with an initial goal of discerning which justice initiatives to focus upon within each region. With the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate effects on Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC), as well as the vigilante killing of Aumaud Arbery, police shooting of Breonna Taylor, and especially the video of George Floyd dying at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the Diocese of Washington was place in the epicenter of rage and controversy over the sin of racism in our community, the nation and the world. Throughout the diocese this year, we have experienced a seismic shift in our attention and resolve to dismantle racism.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we envisioned collaborating on region-specific justice initiatives that together would provide more impact in the communities we serve. The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have changed our strategy and focus. With the blessing of the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council in July 2020, our strategic objective is now Equity and Justice.
Our revised focus for the Equity and Justice objective of the Strategic Plan in the next 12 months is to:
Bravely uncover, understand, reckon with and act to dismantle racism within ourselves,
our faith communities, the Diocese and our localities.
We have claimed antiracism and systemic inequity as a primary lens through which all our diocesan strategic objectives will be addressed. To support that aim, we will:
- Hire a Missioner for Equity and Justice.
- Disseminate a Diocesan Antiracism Covenant for individuals, institutions and leaders.
- Develop and implement online antiracism training in English and in Spanish.
- Expand Sacred Ground offerings in parishes, regions, and among church leaders.
- Provide equity workshops for people throughout the Diocese.
- Uncover and reckon with racism's history in our Diocese and churches.
- Support the work of our Diocesan Reparations Task Force.
Justice in the Diocese of Washington
- The Diocesan Hunger Fund spearheaded a food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank that netted a food goods offering of a whopping 1,417 pounds and a monetary offering of $3,411.95.
- More Jesus, More Love Revival offering raised over $12,800; The monies were evenly divided among St. Philip's DC Childhood Development Center, the Bishop Walker School, St. Timothy's DC Childhood Development Center, and Atonement DC's Feeding Program.
- February 29: Leadership body retreat presentation on justice and advocacy vision for the diocese.
- March 11: Bishop Mariann canceled all public worship services and normal parish operations within the Episcopal Diocese of Washington for what we thought would be two weeks, saying, "we are indeed in uncharted waters -- not just as a diocese, but as a country and a global human family."
- As the economic toll of the pandemic intensified, diocesan staff recognized that some members of our congregations were suffering from food insecurity and other hardships and that EDOW congregations in low-income communities were part of an increasingly fragile safety net for their most vulnerable neighbors. In response to the growing crisis, the diocese suspended the annual Bishop's Appeal for the diocesan budget and replaced it with a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Appeal.
- The death of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25 sparked protests across the country as demonstrators demanded justice and systemic reform. We publicly acknowledged there was not one single pandemic raging in our society, but two: COVID-19 and systemic racism.
- Protests occurred in our own communities as we came together to raise our voices against injustice.
- Early June: Diocesan staff, with heroic assistance from leaders in the diocese, coordinated an ongoing presence outside of St. John's, Lafayette Square, offering water and prayers to the protesters in front of the White House.
- June 14: The diocese hosted an interfaith, ecumenical prayer vigil at St. John's, Lafayette Square, calling for concrete action toward racial justice.
- June 18: The diocese hosted a town hall meeting on racial equity at Washington National Cathedral, organized by young adults for young adults to help us discern where we go next in addressing racism in our diocese and country.
- At a two-day strategy session, diocesan staff revisited the first 12-month priorities of the strategic plan. Listening to where God was calling us, we made a key change to our work in the area of equity and justice, committing to viewing all future work of the diocese through the lens of anti-racism.
- Interviews for the Missioner for Equity and Justice position begin.
- By September, 17 parishes were engaged in or planning Sacred Ground circles.
- Diocesan staff members begin a Sacred Ground circle.
- October 15: We announced that Bishop Eugene Sutton would speak at a special pre-convention online event on Friday, January 29, 2021 about the Diocese of Maryland's multi-year investigation of the legacy of slavery and racial inequity in church and society that culminated in a diocesan resolution passed at their 2020 convention to establish a Reparations Fund.
- Received a Becoming Beloved Community Rapid Response grant to provide "Seeing the Face of God" anti-racism training in an online format in both Spanish and English.
- November 3: Parishioners from 15 congregations participate in Bishop Mariann's invitation to congregations to take part in an EDOW effort to be a prayerful presence at polling stations within our diocesan bounds on Election Day.