[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs News Release: August 6, 2019] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop James B. Magness invite Episcopal churches to take part in a national action to remember and honor the first enslaved Africans who landed in English North America in 1619 by tolling their bells for one minute on Sunday, August 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm ET.
Watch Presiding Bishop Curry’s video message here.
“The National Park Service is commissioning, and asking, churches and people from around this country to commemorate and remember that landing and the bringing of those first enslaved Africans to this country by ringing bells. And if possible, by tolling the bells of churches and to do so on August 25 at 3:00 in the afternoon,” said Curry. “I’m inviting us as The Episcopal Church to join in this commemoration as part of our continued work of racial healing and reconciliation. At 3:00 pm we can join together with people of other Christian faiths and people of all faiths to remember those who came as enslaved, who came to a country that one day would proclaim liberty. And so we remember them and pray for a new future for us all.
This national bell ringing is among the Healing Day events being held at Fort Monroe National Monument to commemorate the 400th anniversary of that landing.
“The 2019 commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to North America is for me a highly personal occasion,” said Magness. “As a descendent of slaveholders, and as a white male who came of age in the racially polarized south during the 1950s and 1960s, I am painfully aware of my own complicity in furthering and perpetuating the subjugation of my African American brothers and sisters. At a time when the racial divide in this country seems to be growing rather than diminishing, we are in dire need of a moment, an event when we can stop and take stock of our responsibilities to bring the races together, perhaps in a new manner that truly is an embrace of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.”