Union of Black Episcopalians in 39th convention this week
++Katharine and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson are attending the conference, hosted by the Diocese of Texas. ++Katharine is hosting a "Presiding Bishop's Forum" at the Convention this morning. She preached at the Eucharistic service yesterday morning, telling the convention:
We live in a world that is not yet whole, and we understand our vocation to be its healing or repair. Our Jewish brothers and sisters call it 'Tikkun Alam,' the repair of the world.
Over and over and over again, the prophets railed against those who brought greater divisions to the world, those who bring more injustice, those whose deeds sow destruction.
The conference celebrates and encourages clergy and laity of color, and thanks them for their service and gifts.
The conference recognizes several milestones this year, including the 30th anniversary of women's ordination. Among those being honored is Bishop Barbara Harris, the recently retired Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts. Bishop Harris, an African-American, became the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion when she was ordained in 1989.
"This was one of the key social justice issues that we supported in our early history as an organization and this year we will celebrate the ordination of women by recognizing bishop's who are African American, Latin, Asian, Native and Anglo," conference coordinator Dianne Audrick Smith told Episcopal Life online in May. "As a body, we will have an opportunity to thank them all for their ministries to us in the name of Christ."
In addition, women "across the generations" will be asked to briefly provide their perspectives on their lives as priests.
"I'm sure that in some of their comments, they will call us to actively pick up the mantle and fight against all of the isms -- sexism, homophobia, racism, classism," Smith said.
The Union of Black Episcopalians is a confederation of more than 55 chapters and interest groups throughout the continental United States and the Caribbean. The Union also has members in Canada, Africa and Latin America.
It stands in the rich, continuing tradition of more than 200 years of Black leadership in the Episcopal Church.
Beginning with the establishment of St. Thomas Episcopal Church by Absalom Jones in 1794 in the city of Philadelphia through the election of Barbara Harris as Suffragan bishop of Massachusetts there has always been a strong corps of Black Christians in the Episcopal Church. People like James Holly, Henry Delaney, John Walker, Tollie Caution, Charles Lawrence, Deborah Harmon Hines, and countless other.
Organized in 1968 as the Union of Black Clergy and Laity, the Union is the proud inheritor of the work of these people and earlier organization, the Convocation of Colored Clergy, the Conference of Church Workers Among Colored People, all dedicated to the ministry of Blacks in the Episcopal Church. The name was changed to the Union of Black Episcopalians in 1971.