Parish History Projects: Telling the Truth about Race and Racism

All parishes in the Diocese of Washington are encouraged to examine their histories from the perspective of race and racism.

“The stories that we all tell (or don’t tell about the past) determine how we live the Gospel in the present and future. Parish history projects aren’t an exercise in shaming or disremembering. They are an act of holy “re-membering” that which is so deeply a part of all of us. They situate us in God’s larger narrative of sin… and repair and redemption.”

The Rev. Dr. Maria A. Kane, rector at St. Paul’s, Waldorf and member of the Committee on Reparations

Slave census for Maryland
Faith and Tobacco - a history of St. Thomas' Parish in Prince George's County, Maryland
Ad offering bounty for return of a runaway enslaved person

Conducting a Parish History Project

Conducting a Parish History Project

We invite you and your congregation to undertake a parish history project so that together, we may engage in the work of truth telling to better discern how to be a more equitable and racially just diocese.

Here are some resources to help get you started:

Contact the Committee on Diocesan Reparations with any questions about conducting a parish history project.

Congregational History Partners

Our Congregational History Partners are a group of congregations whose members support and encourage one another as they uncover and share their faith communities’ histories with racism and race.

We meet virtually on the first Saturday of each month at 11:00 a.m. Contact the Committee on Diocesan Reparations to learn how to participate in the conversation.

  • Ascension, Gaithersburg
  • Ascension, Silver Spring
  • Calvary, DC
  • Christ Church, La Plata
  • Christ Church, Rockville
  • Good Shepherd, Silver Spring
  • Grace, Silver Spring
  • Our Saviour, Brookland
  • Our Saviour, Hillandale
  • Redeemer, Bethesda
  • St. Columba’s, DC
  • St. John’s, Beltsville
  • St. John’s, Lafayette Square
  • St. John’s, Norwood
  • St. John’s, Georgetown
  • St. Peter’s, Poolesville
  • St. Phillip’s, Laurel
  • St. Thomas, Croom
St. Columba's cornerstone is laid

Parish History Spotlight: St. Columba’s

St. Columba’s Parish, located in affluent Tenleytown in Northwest Washington, D.C., is today among the largest and wealthiest parishes in the Diocese of Washington. But St. Columba’s has not always been prosperous, and the surrounding Tenleytown community has not always been so predominantly white. Understanding how St. Columba’s grew from its mission chapel origins to its current status called for an examination of the lasting effects of deliberate and systemic racist policies and practices in the United States since the 1700s, specifically including in Washington, D.C., Tenleytown, and The Episcopal Church.

In 2022, the parish dug into its past to create a starting point for discussion, action, and visioning for a more just and equitable future.

Read St. Columba’s Church, Tenleytown and Race: A Racial History of St. Columba’s Parish

Video Testimonials

These parish testimonials provide insight and examples on how to engage with complex histories and share information in compelling ways.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norwood
Parish History Project

Calvary Episcopal Church, DC
Parish History Project

Grace Episcopal Church, Silver Spring
Parish History Project