Episcopal Church to repent for sin of slavery

Slave ship lithograph The Episcopal Church has set Saturday, Oct. 4 as a day of repentance for the sin of slavery.  A 10:30 a.m. “Service of Repentance” on that day, led by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be the culmination of a two-day solemn observance at the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia observance also will include presentations on Oct. 3 that make a historic and contemporary exploration of slavery and its effects on the church and society. Massachusetts State Representative Byron Rushing, a General Convention deputy and member of St. John St. James Church in Roxbury, will be among the presenters.  Rushing told Episcopal News Service that his presentation will focus on the face of slavery as “a significant part not only of American history but in the formation of American culture.”

“You cannot define America without a discussion of slavery in the invention of America,” Rushing said.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention declared in its resolution 2006-A123 that the institution of slavery in the United States and “anywhere else in the world” was and is a sin, and mandated that the church acknowledge and express regret for its support of slavery and for supporting “de jure and de facto segregation and discrimination” for years after slavery’s abolition.  The resolution also asked the presiding bishop to call for a “Day of Repentance and Reconciliation.”

Locally, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston is planning “A Conversation on Slavery in the U.S. and Liturgy of Purpose” on Oct. 4 (tentative time is 10 a.m.), to include showing and discussion of the documentary film Traces of the Trade.

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