By Carol Tannenhauser
With the headline “We are Complicit,” the Episcopal Diocese of New York announced that there will be a Service of Apology for Slavery, on Saturday, March 25th from 12:00 PM to 2 PM at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street. The service is a step towards atonement for this “foundational American crime against humanity,” the announcement said.
It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that “this church joined in the larger societal oppression of African men and women and children, and participated in the kidnapping and sale of human beings,” said The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche, the current Bishop of New York in the Episcopal Church, speaking at the Diocesan Convention in 2022. “We did this because there was money in it, and that money built our churches and funded Christian missions and sustained our common life.”
The Diocese has pledged to institute a $1.1 million fund, through which a Reparations Commission will work “to repair the historic and contemporary damage done to people of African descent.” Bishop Dietsche told Gothamist on Wednesday that talks about reparations “so far have centered on providing college scholarships as well as health care and housing, along with clearing institutional obstacles that have prevented African Americans in the church from working at ‘high-profile parishes and dioceses.’”
The Service of Apology will include a video address by The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, “reflecting the momentous nature of this gathering.” The service will be held in person at the Cathedral and livestreamed on its website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel. All are invited to participate.
WSR will be covering the service.