A Resolution to Begin the Work of Reparation in the Diocese of Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions
In affirming our commitment to carrying forward the resolution adopted by the November 2021 Diocesan Convention, below are a few frequently asked questions about R-10a: A Resolution to Begin the Work of Reparation in the Diocese of Virginia. Ensuring a successful beginning to this very important work requires that we approach this sacred work with a deep, prayerful, generous investment of time. We hope this FAQ provides thoughtful responses to many of your questions. We are also pleased to provide a nomination application for those interested in serving on the R-10a Task Force.
1) Where did the resolution originate and what does it commit the Diocese of Virginia to do?
The resolution was drafted and submitted to the 2021 Diocesan Convention by a group of lay and clergy delegates. It was adopted by a clear majority of Convention delegates. The resolution commits the Diocese to appoint a “Reparations Task Force to identify and propose means by which repair may begin for those areas of our structures, patterns, and common life by which Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) within the original bounds of our Diocese still carry the burden of theological, social, cultural, economic, and legal injustices, exclusions, and biases born out of white supremacy and the legacy of slavery.” It also commits the Diocese “to establish an endowment over the next five years of $10 million to be set aside as an initial investment,” using the “proceeds of the endowment” for “reparations which directly benefit BIPOC communities, people, programs, business[es], and institutions” with preference for any which may have been specifically harmed by past unjust actions by the Diocese of Virginia, its institutions, or churches.
2) What are reparations generally and how are they defined in the context of this resolution?
The word “reparation” comes from the word “repair.” The intent of reparation, in our context, is to heal the breach that exists between people because of the history and sin of white supremacy and white superiority which has, without question, supported the colonization and marginalization of Indigenous people and land, the transatlantic slave trade, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and modern-day efforts at voter suppression. It must be emphasized that the work of reparation is not solely about money, but about the systematic unmasking of insidious practices that perpetuate inequality and injustice.
Reparations is transformational work that is grounded in our Baptismal Covenant, in which we promise to “persevere in resisting evil, and whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord”; “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being”; and “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.” (BCP,304-305) The Episcopal Church recognizes that one means of addressing, confronting, and overcoming the sin of white supremacy and white superiority is through the intentional work of reparation.
3) Why $10 million dollars, and where will these funds come from?
The resolution suggests that the endowment be funded from the sale of unoccupied diocesan property. The $10 million was named by the group of lay and clergy delegates who drafted the resolution, which was then adopted by the Convention.
4) Who will name the members of the Task Force, and what areas of skill, experience and expertise are needed?
The Task Force, appointed by the Bishop and the Standing Committee, will consist of lay and clergy representatives, including one member of the Standing Committee and one member of the Executive Board. The areas of skill, experience and expertise sought include Prayer and Spirituality; Education; Theology and Ethics; Finance and Investment; Legal Matters: Constitutions and Canons; Community Wisdom; History; Communication; Marketing, and the Arts.
5) Is there a connection between the recently approved resolution R-1a, “Resolution to Establish the Virginia Plan for Covenantal Giving” and R-10a?
No. R1a is the outcome of a two-year process begun with the Bishop’s appointment of a working group to study the situation and make a recommendation to Convention. R10a was designed and proposed by a self-organized group of clergy and laity in 2021. Funds received through R-1a will not be used to fund the R-10a endowment. Instead, as clarified in question 3, funds for R-10a will be raised through the sale of unused diocesan property. The intentions of the two resolutions are vastly different. R-1a is about funding the ongoing, shared mission and ministry of the Diocese of Virginia. R-10a is about funding initiatives to promote racial justice, healing and repair. The sources of the funding are different. The mission and ministry of the Diocese is funded by covenantal giving from congregations. The work of racial justice, healing and repair will be funded by the sale of unused diocesan properties.
6) What is the timeframe for the process?
After the appointment of the Task Force in April 2022, the Task Force will begin the work of establishing an endowment over the next five years. It will also begin to carry out its mandate to identify and propose means by which repair may begin. The Task Force will report quarterly to the Executive Board and annually to the Diocesan Convention.
7) Who will be the recipients of reparations and how will funds be disbursed?
Details about how proceeds of the $10 million investment fund will be disbursed will be proposed in coming years by the Task Force and approved by the Executive Board of the Diocese. The resolution proposes that disbursement would take the form of grants and loans to BIPOC communities, individuals, programs, businesses, and institutions with preference for any which may have been specifically harmed by unjust action by the Diocese of Virginia, its institutions, or churches.
8) How will we assess the effectiveness of our work?
The Task Force will be responsible for developing tools to measure the effectiveness of its work and will be responsible for sharing its findings quarterly with the Executive Board, and annually to the Convention. The Task Force functioning might explore not only how grants or loans have positively impacted BIPOC communities, but also how behaviors, values, and beliefs regarding the work of equity and justice have developed across the Diocese.
9) Where can I go to find more information about reparations, and how do I engage in the process and/or provide feedback?
The Report from the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops provides an excellent resource about reparations and The Episcopal Church. Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair by Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson is another excellent resource. Other Episcopal Dioceses and institutions which have carried out similar initiatives include: Virginia Theological Seminary, the Diocese of Georgia, the Diocese of New York, and Memorial Episcopal Church and others in Maryland.
You may share your prayers, thoughts, and comments by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
10) How can I best pray about this resolution?
Prayer strengthens us to do the work ahead as it opens us to God and to the communities around us. Prayer rarely leads to our expected outcomes but draws us closer to God’s desire and delight. Prayers for reconciliation, healing and justice from the Book of Common Prayer can give us words as we lift our concerns, fears, and deep hope to God. What is most important is to keep praying to discern God’s will and to seek the courage and grace to accomplish it.
From the Book of Common Prayer
For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.
For the Church
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it
with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is
amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in
want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake
of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.
For the Unity of the Church
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior,
the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the
great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away
all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body
and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all
of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth
and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and
one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For Social Justice
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so
move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the
people of this land], that barriers which divide us may
crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our
divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In Times of Conflict
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Those Who Influence Public Opinion
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many
voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where
many listen and write what many read; that they may do their
part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and
its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Future of the Human Race
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us
dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before
the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes
for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in
making provision for its future in accordance with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious
favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our
works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify
thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting
life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and
light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all
our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou
wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save
us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see
light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.
For Social Justice
Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us
grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace
with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom,
help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our
communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy
Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen