In an unprecedented move, the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, presented a Missionary Vision for a Racial Justice initiative that aims to repair and commence racial healing for individuals and communities who were directly injured by slavery in the diocese. The announcement was made at the 171st Diocesan Council held in Waco, Texas, February 7-8, 2020.
The Missionary Vision for Racial Justice initiative includes a $13 million commitment towards racial reconciliation projects and scholarships for the future training and education of people of color.
“The goal is to support the people of our communities who were actually injured by our past actions,” said Doyle. Doyle further explained to the clergy, delegates and members of the diocese, that he recently met with 38 representatives of the Historic Black Churches to invite their future collaboration and support. He worked for many years to dream with leaders and implement this initiative. “I have sought to undergird this work with the best theological and practical ideas in this present moment and from across the church to reinforce and amplify remedies and imagine a different trajectory for our future.”
The Bishop of Texas also reminded the audience that the Rt. Rev. Alexander Gregg, the first bishop of the diocese, including parishioners, had household slaves. “People don’t realize that our first congregation, Christ Church, Matagorda, was built by slaves. This is our truth. It is the truth of this diocese,” said Doyle.
Doyle added that although clergy and laity alike have spoken out against slavery, racism, and even courageously stopped lynching in our communities, other leaders, on the contrary, have defended slavery, white supremacy, and remained silent. Furthermore, Doyle also shared that he believes some lay leaders in the nineteenth century and early twentieth participated in lynching.
The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, commended the initiative. “When I read the Missionary Vision for Racial Justice, for a moment, to be honest, it took my breath away … One translation of the word ‘inspiration’ is ‘God breathed.’ What you, the good people of the Diocese of Texas have done together with God is something truly God breathed, inspired!’”
The money for the Missionary Vision for Racial Justice Initiative will go to fund the Bertha Means Endowment at Seminary of the Southwest, the David Taylor Scholarship at Seminary of the Southwest, the Pauli Murray Scholarship Fund at Seminary of the Southwest, the Thomas Cain Fund for Historic Black Churches, the Henrietta Wells Scholarship Fund for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the John and Joseph Talbot Fund for Racial Justice, and the Episcopal Health Foundation Congregational Engagement.