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Dec 06, 2019 | Paulette E. Martin

Two Churches in Diocese Among First to Receive Grant Awards from Advisory Council on Becoming Beloved Community

The Presiding Officer’s Advisory Council on Becoming Beloved Community has awarded the Brazos Valley Common Good Program at St. Andrew’s, Bryan and The One Human Race Initiative at St. James’, Austin, with a grant of $10,000 and $6,000, respectively, to further catalyze the Episcopal Church’s work on racial healing, reconciliation and justice.

The Advisory Council received 74 applications from across the Church featuring a unique and inspiring vision for racial healing, reconciliation and justice. The requests far exceeded available resources. This is part of The One Human Race Initiative program.

“Last summer, the 78th General Convention of our Church did a remarkable thing: the General Convention invited us as a church to take up this Jesus Movement. We made a commitment to live into being the Jesus Movement by committing to evangelism and the work of reconciliation – beginning with racial reconciliation ... across the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God. This is difficult work. But we can do it. It’s about listening and sharing. It’s about God,” said the Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry.

Grant recipient Jill Pollock’s proposal, from the Brazos Valley Common Good Program and parishioner of St. Andrew’s, Bryan, includes holding three forums, each on a different topic: policing, housing and education at three churches within the Brazos Valley.

In addition to forums, a new website will be created to highlight the events, including social media and emailed notices media to more than 400 churches in the area to assure the widest and most diverse audience is reached for participation and action. 

The grant will also fund data analytics from raw data gathered by government organizations, like the required annual report by police chiefs and county sheriffs, and the annual Regional Needs Assessment, a federally-funded Prevention Resource Center.

The initial outreach of the Brazos Valley Common Good Program began with St. Andrew’s hosting, and the Episcopal Health Foundation funding, a showing of Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, a documentary on descendants of a Rhode Island slave trading family from 1769 to 1820. More than 75 Brazos Valley residents, African American and white and representing many area churches, attended two sessions on the film itself and on the local effect in Texas.

Teresa Chang’s proposal, the executive committee member of One Human Race of St. James’, Austin, hopes the grant will allow them to hold two facilitator trainings and workshops in three Texas towns outside of Austin. The money awarded will also be used to train a dozen of facilitators within the next 2-3 years.

Churches and other organizations such as the Episcopal Health Foundation, The Union of Black Episcopalians in Austin and Houston, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Williamson County will be involved by promoting, preparing their communities, and hosting workshops and other events. Members of these communities will be invited to become volunteers and panel members.

The One Human Race offers communities knowledge and tools to examine their own racial biases and form healthy multicultural communities by showing the PBS documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion, sharing their own personal stories and providing a safe space for participants to share this.

The One Human Race Initiative has been providing free racial reconciliation workshops since 2014. The organization grew organically out of the experience of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Austin, whose historically African American congregation made a decision to embrace radical hospitality. Workshops were developed after the makeup of the congregation changed and subsequently, efforts to integrate the Anglo and African American Community became a priority.

To learn more about the Episcopal Church’s Beloved Community Campaign, visit: episcopalchurch.org/beloved-community

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