The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice.
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in keeping with our baptismal covenant, we join with others to study up, speak up, stand up, and show up in order to bring the Beloved Community closer to realization in our time and place.
Follow the Diocesan Commission for Beloved Community Facebook Page for new resources and to share your parish’s anti-racism events and activity.
Beloved Community WMA – Facebook
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 2020: A New Resource from the Episcopal Church
Responding to Racist Violence
Beloved Community Commission 2020 Book Selection:
Jesus and the Disinherited
by Howard Thurman
The Beloved Community Commission of the Diocese of Western MA invites all people and parishes in the diocese to read and discuss Howard Thurman’s 1949 classic, Jesus and the Disinherited in 2020.
A mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Thurman anticipated many of the themes of liberation theology, including Black Theology. But Thurman’s focus was not direct activism so much as cultivating a liberated spirit. The result is a short, inspiring work of pastoral theology.
Parishes could use Jesus and the Disinherited as the basis for one or more ZOOM conversations about Christian formation, spirituality, and racial justice. To prepare for these conversations, you may stream a 57 min. video about Thurman called “Backs Against the Wall”. Diocesan clergy watched this video together at the 2019 Clergy Conference.
Resources for Group and Personal Learning
Note: These resources are weighted toward the history & legacy of slavery in the United States, including the origins of racism and its forms. Resources for the history of the slaughter and continuing racialized treatment of Native Peoples can be found in Web Sites listed below. Most of these resources address the necessity of an honest appraisal and awareness of whiteness for becoming Beloved Community.
- Resources for Racial Reconciliation and Justice | Episcopal Church
- Anti-Racism/Racial Reconciliation Training Resources | Episcopal Church
- Talking About Race from National Museum for African American History & Culture
- Resources from Equal Justice Initiative
- Sacred Ground: A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race & Faith from TEC
Books on Race for Episcopalians
General & Basic
- How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi, 2019.
The current term-defining book.
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, Robin DiAngelo, 2018.
NY Times bestseller explores the emotions and behaviors of white people that prevent meaningful cross-racial dialogue.
- Waking Up White, Debby Irving, 2014.
Inspiring autobiographical journey from white oblivion to white awareness. It is one of the two books that accompany the film-based dialogue series Sacred Ground. (The other is Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited, our 2020 book selection.)
Basic Books with a Theological Perspective
- Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman, 1949.
Thurman, first African American Dean of Marsh Chapel, Boston University, mentored Martin Luther King, Jr., who carried this book with him as he shaped the non-violent message of the civil rights movement. It answers the question “What does Christianity have to say to those with their backs against a wall?”
- The Cross & the Lynching Tree, James Cone, 2011.
Long-time African American professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary NYC shows how the thousands of men and women who died on lynching trees were the body of Christ crucified all over again. 2019 BCC book selection.
- Stand Your Ground—Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Kelly Brown Douglas, 2015.
Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union and African American mother, Dr. Douglas writes a brief, lucid account of the historical, cultural, and religious forces that have given rise to our “stand your ground” culture that defines the lives that matter. Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism from Tacitus to Manifest Destiny to Florida.
- Reconstructing the Gospel—Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, 2018.
Wilson, a white Baptist minister and colleague of Rev. William Barber, writes an honest, personal reckoning with the “mangled slaveholding religion that continues to pass for the gospel in the United States” and exorcises “the demons of racism and white supremacy that have plagued the body of Christ.”
- America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege & the Bridge to a New America, Jim Wallis, 2016.
“It’s time for white Christians to be more Christian than white” –Wallis. How facing this sin can liberate us to live out our true mission of love and justice.
- The Radical King, Martin Luther King, Jr., edited & introduced by Cornel West, 2012.
A compilation of King’s most radical sermons/speeches/essays where he deployed his intellectual genius to express a radical love—“Christocentric in content and black in character”—in a revolutionary, unsanitized, anti-racist, anti-colonial witness.
Deeper Dive – History
- The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery & the Making of American Capitalism, Edward Baptist, 2014.
“A myth-busting work that pursues how the world profited from American slavery… This is a complicated story involving staggering scholarship that adds greatly to our understanding of the history of the United States.” –Kirkus Reviews
Previous Book Reads
- Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois, 1903.
W.E.B. DuBois, 1868-1963, a native son of Great Barrington, MA. A classic book by one of America’s literary giants. “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” This is the problem of the twenty-first century as well.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander, 2012.
A stunning distillation of a complex argument and history of the continuation of the legacy of slavery in the United States.
- Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, 2015.
A heart-wrenching and hopeful book about the reformation of justice in the U.S. by the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative.
- Ms. Lee Cheek, co-chair
- The Rev. Dr. Harvey Hill, co-chair
- Ms. Cynthia Pease
- The Rev. Pamela Porter
- Ms. Wende Wheeler
- The Rev. Pamela J. Mott
- Ms. Alexizendria Link
- The Rev. Michael J. Ramsey-Musolf