The Policy Working Group of the Committee on Diocesan Reparations

by | Aug 10, 2023

This summer, we have shared about how the diocese is taking our next faithful step toward diocesan reparations and the goals of the Education Working Group of the Committee on Diocesean Reparations. As a co-chair of the Policy Working Group, this week I will outline the scope of our work.

While our role, specified by the resolution passed at the 2023 Diocesan Convention, does not include crafting policy, the working group will offer insight into what policies could be created to provide appropriate redress for the harms done by anti-Black racism within the diocese. We will also identify and offer recommendations for administrative or legislative actions that make sense to implement.

If we were to reflect on some policies that we currently function under, we might recognize that these are policies shaped by a narrative that we have constructed about our church. For example, in the larger Episcopal Church, there are policies and procedures in place regarding ordination practices that we abide by. While many of those policies are canonical and necessary, they often do not take into account the landmines that candidates from historically underrepresented communities must overcome to get to the table. The results of these overt and covert policies have led to churches with clerical leadership that sometimes cannot meet culturally specific spiritual needs or even speak the native language of the gathered.

An essential part of our policy work will be about providing ways that the diocese can shift the narrative.To look closely at the stories we have told ourselves about the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the parishes that are a part of it.

The work of reparations is not just about disbursing financial resources, but also recognizing that the narrative we have collectively been functioning under is incomplete. And that lack of wholeness deserves examination, confession, reconciliation and then restoration.

A diocesan colleague and ad hoc member of the Committee on Diocesan Reparations, the Rev. Melanie Mullen offered these thoughts at the It’s All About Love event in Baltimore last month: “Racial reckoning and reconciliation in churches begins as a community-led process of discovery. Racially just policy-making needs this story telling work as we build a new path towards Beloved Community.”

This reminds us that there is an entry point for all diocesan members to participate in this reparation work. This truth telling about our parishes, how they came to be, who was welcome to worship in them, and where they could be baptized, married, and buried may cause us to think about the stories we have told and the ways in which those stories have shaped the policies of this diocese.

Our hope, as we journey together towards restorative justice and reparations, is that we have the courage to tell the truth about the evil done on our behalf, acknowledge the ways in which we are complicit, and then shift the narrative so that we may with integrity integrate diocesan policies that allow for substantive racial reconciliation and Beloved Community.

The Rev. Glenna Huber
Co-chair, Policy Working Group, Committee on Diocesan Reparations
Rector, Epiphany, DC