"This is all of our work": Racial Justice Commission spotlights many hands at work & calls all to join the effort

Group photo of 2024 Racial Justice Commission Courtesy photo 2024 Racial Justice Commission leadership: (back, from left) Chris Wendell, Paul Minor, Morgan Allen, Debbie Phillips, Will Mebane, Jennifer Beal, Bishop Alan Gates; (front, from left) Carol Morehead, Derrick Muwina, Louise Gant, Deborah Gardner Walker, Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa and Ema Rosero-Nordalm.

The diocesan Racial Justice Commission is undertaking its work this year with a renewed focus on invitation as it continues in its efforts to help move the diocesan community closer to the ideal of Beloved Community. 
The commission gathered with Bishop Alan Gates and facilitators on Feb. 17 at St. Mary's Church in Newton Lower Falls for a work retreat "to take us deeper into knowing one another and thinking about how we work as a team," the Rev. Carol Morehead said in a Zoom interview. "One of our goals this year is to not only do the work that we're doing, but also to do more intentional work around both getting the word out and inviting people to participate."
Morehead, the rector of Grace Church in Medford, is the incoming co-chair who has joined continuing commission co-chair the Rev. Will Mebane, rector of St. Barnabas's Church in Falmouth.  It is the commission's practice to install new co-chairs to serve alongside continuing ones, for the commission itself and its five subcommittees. 
Those subcommittees' work is focused on transparency and accountability in organizational practices and processes; just allocation of financial resources and compensation; support for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders, congregations and communities; provision of education resources considered from an antiracist point of view; and reparations.    
Projects for the year ahead, Morehead said, include establishing the committee that will oversee the Reparations Fund created by the Diocesan Convention in 2022, and finalizing a new antiracism curriculum for the diocese that is in development with the Absalom Jones Center in Atlanta. An additional task force that includes members of the Commission on Ministry is working to implement cross-cultural learning, practice and peer support components to the formation process for postulants and candidates for ordination, also called for by the 2022 Diocesan Convention.
Work continues to assess financial and other systems and structures, Morehead said, informed by insights gathered last year from the Racial, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) assessment conducted with the help of consultants at the end of 2022.  And, more gatherings will be organized in the months ahead for members of the diocese's Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities for fellowship and support.  

Also through its subcommittees, the Racial Justice Commission has encouraged and put a spotlight on the racial justice work of other groups, including the Indigenous Peoples' Justice Network of both Episcopal dioceses in Massachusetts, and the Diocesan and Cathedral Staff Antiracist Working Group, for which last year's Diocesan Convention urged annual budget support. 
"The people on the Racial Justice Commission and its subcommittees are so passionate about the work, and we came away [from the February retreat] realizing that there's so much good news and so much struggle to share that we need to be inviting the diocese more and more.  This is not 'our' [the commission's] work--this is all of our work as a diocesan community.  We're happy to be in conversation with anyone who is interested in knowing more and getting involved."  
Visit www.diomass.org/racial-justice-commission for additional information; the co-chairs can be reached at RJC@diomass.org.