World Mission Committees Hear Call to Recognize and Grieve Colonialism – Episcopal News Service
[Episcopal News Service] The legislative committees of the General Convention on Global Mission heard testimony May 16 on Resolution A017, which calls on the Episcopal Church to “acknowledge and mourn” its past practices of colonialism in missionary efforts around the world.
The church’s efforts for racial reconciliation helped inspire the resolution, said Martha Gardner, Congresswoman from Massachusetts and chair of the Standing Commission on Global Mission, who proposed A017 in her Blue Book 2020 report.” We felt that in addition to doing the work in terms of the United States, we must also look historically at our work in terms of global mission,” she testified. Noting the work of the Presidents’ Task Force on Truth, Judgment and Healing, she added that the resolution addresses what she called “one way” in the church’s approach to global mission. – to explore historical complicity and examine how dioceses and congregations now undertake missions outside of the United States.
“Is it always with this kind of colonial imperialism, racist attitude? she asked.
After a year-long postponement and now a reduction in size, duration and scope, the 80th General Convention is now set to take place over four days in Baltimore, Maryland, July 8-11. Ahead of the convention, two dozen committees of bishops and deputies are holding hearings together online. To consult the schedule of online hearings, click here.
The Rev. Judy Quick, Alabama’s acting deputy and member of the standing committee, said this resolution helps highlight “the power dynamics that have historically been present and in many cases may still be present. in our global mission”. She also highlighted what she called a “comradeship theology,” included in the guiding principles of a digital mission toolkit developed by the Standing Commission on Global Mission, the Office of Global Partnerships at the Church and the Worldwide Episcopal Mission Network. These principles, Quick said, emphasize “the importance of reciprocity and recognition and that everyone has God-given gifts to share, and that we can learn from each other.”
Reverend Gray Maggiano, rector of the Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, said his parish had worked hard on the issue of reparations and it was time to take a similar look at the imperialist role of the church in the world. “The way we talk about mission in the church leaves a lot to be desired,” Maggiano said. He said that the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church have perpetuated evils in the name of Jesus, either by the church or in the name of the church. “This resolution really serves to guide the work of the Standing Commission on Global Ministries on cataloging some of these evils and addressing our history of colonialism, so that we as a church can be better focused on the future,” he said.
Gardner pointed to the collaboration taking place in the Triangle of Hope as a model of mind-shifting. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the Church of England Diocese of Liverpool and the Anglican Diocese of Kumasi in Ghana form the triangle and work together in a “covenant community dedicated to transforming the long history, continuing effects and continued presence of slavery in our world through repentance, reconciliation and mission.
Committee member Bishop Prince Singh, Provisional Bishop of the Eastern and Western Michigan Dioceses, asked how the success of this anti-colonialist work would be measured. Maggiano said that before anything else can happen, “We need to know exactly how bad it is.” Gardner said one measure would be if those engaged in mission think and act differently than before. “Do they go into these relationships looking not to make plans for but with?” she asked.
The committees also added funding to the resolution, proposing that $50,000 be budgeted for the Office of Global Partnerships to oversee this work. A total of three people spoke in favor of A017.
The committees also heard testimony on Resolution A028, also proposed by the standing committee, which offers support for the work of the Episcopal Worldwide Missionary Network and celebrates 25 years of fostering global mission. It would also provide $50,000 from the Episcopal Church budget to GEMN to support its work.
Quick offered his support for the resolution and for the work that GEMN does, particularly its mission training program, a two-year program that “really equips us for mission and enables us to go deeper and understand the ‘mission story’. Gardner said GEMN helps bring together grassroots advocates at the diocesan and congregational level and that “this partnership is really important” to the church’s mission work around the world.
–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.