Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
Isaiah 58 12
On Thursday, March 17, members of the newly formed Task Force on Black Ministries convened for the first time to consider its charter mission “to study the revitalization of Black churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington…and make recommendations to the Diocesan Council to enhance, revitalize, and empower Black churches and Black parishioners [in the diocese]…” by September 1, 2022.
We began by sharing our thoughts with one another about what the work involved would entail. Immediately the power of listening became apparent as we began to see ideas coalescing and building on one another. The Rev. Antonio Baxter, one of the cosponsors of the resolution that brought this task force into being, shared his passion for ensuring that the Black church continues to evolve and play a role in our communities, particularly in the lives of rising generations – millennials and generation Z. He described the need for the Black church to step in where, at times, there seems to be no hope. Others voiced similar visions for Black churches to once more serve as centers of community support.
From this rich conversation, our first essential task took shape–to reach out to members of our Black congregations for one-on-one conversations. What issues do they see affecting the Black church? What can we do as a diocese to enhance, revitalize, and empower Black church and Black parishioners? And where do we hear the Holy Spirit in this shared work?
The task force members agreed: it will be a challenge to fulfill its mission in the relatively brief timeframe between now and September 1. But each of us is grateful that this task force has been formed. And I am personally grateful for the task force members’ commitment to this important work and the space they’ve made in their busy schedules. We are all motivated to get our work underway.
We invite your prayers for the work ahead, the Black church, and the lay and clerical members of the Task Force on Back Ministries:
Sonia Anderson, St. John’s Mount Rainier, MD
The Rev. Antonio Baxter, Atonement, DC
Timothy Q Grandy, Calvary, DC
The Rev. Caron Gwynn, UBE representative
The Rev. Canon Michele Hagans, Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. John Harmon, Trinity, DC
Rosemary Latney, Our Savior, Brookland
Sibyl Moses, St. Augustine’s, DC
Diane Quinn, St. Luke’s, DC
Charmaine Romear, Trinity, DC
Paul Ruffins, St. John’s, Mount Rainier
The Rev. Ricardo Sheppard, Atonement, DC, Chair of the Task Force
Andrea Thomas, St. Georges, DC
The Rev. Canon, Anne-Marie Jeffery, EDOW staff liaison