The Episcopal Diocese of New York has officially apologized for the church’s participation in the slave trade. The religious organization has also established a reparations commission in a step to right its wrongs when it comes to slavery.
The Episcopal Diocese of New York is a diocese of the Episcopal Church and covers three New York City boroughs and seven New York state counties. Established in 1785, it is one of the Episcopal Church’s original dioceses.
The Episcopal Diocese of New York is also pledging $1.1 million that will go towards education and work in the community.
The apology was made at a special service on April 1 at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan’s Morningside neighborhood,
“We are ready now to begin to make a tangible investment in African-American people and communities as reparation for our history of slavery. But we can’t really do that and have it be meaningful unless, at the very beginning, we stop and take a moment and accept accountability,” Andrew Dietsche, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York, said.
The service included a video address by the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Curry is also the first Black person to hold that position.
Curry called the apology “the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual work that has been done, and that continues.”
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He added, “Now some might say that apology is not enough, and to be sure, by itself, it’s not. But you have been engaged in the work of unearthing our history, unearthing our story, telling stories that had not been told, telling of pain that has been borne sometimes in silence.”
According to Dietsche, African-American slaves built churches in the city, and even after emancipation, their families were denied equal access.
Dietsche said this is a three-step process: lamentations, apologies, and reparations, CBS News reported.
In 2006, a resolution adopted by the Episcopal Church’s leadership declared the institution of slavery a “sin” and mandated that the church acknowledge and express regret for its role. The resolution also called on churches to examine how they benefited from slavery, the Gothamist reported.
Over the past few years, several educational and religious organizations have apologized for their ties to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Among them are the University of Alabama, Davidson College, Brown University, Emory University, Harvard University, Georgetown University and the Jesuits, Princeton Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Andrew Dietsche, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York (Photo: website, https://dioceseny.org/the-diocese/our-bishops/bishop-dietsche/)