The 27th Assembly of the Episcopal Urban Caucus (EUC) will meet February 7-10 at the Holiday Inn Brownstone, in Raleigh, North Carolina, under the theme "Making the Contacts: Locally and Globally."
The gathering will focus on resolutions on slavery and reconciliation passed at the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention.
Keynote speakers, who will speak on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the topic of Truth and Reconciliation, will include Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies; and the Rev. Nelson Johnson, pastor of Faith Community Church.
"We are hoping that the messages our speakers bring will say something about the MDGs," said Nell Braxton Gibson, EUC coordinator. "We are also hoping that in this time of war, they will say something about our role in terms of peace."
Johnson, known as a visionary and community organizer for racial and economic justice both in North Carolina and nationally, will deliver the first address, responding to issues of racism and providing an update on the work of Greensboro, North Carolina's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission grew out of the November 3, 1979 incident when Johnson and 10 others were wounded and four people were killed when members of the local community, Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi party clashed at a "Death to the Klan" demonstration.
"Greensboro, North Carolina has, as far as we know, the only Truth and Reconciliation group in the country," said Gibson. "It is modeled after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and has been holding public hearings since 2005 based on the 1979 shooting because they felt that justice had not been served."
Participants will also view the documentary "Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North," a feature documentary that tells the story of the DeWolf family, the largest slave-trading family in US history and also a prominent part of the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island. James DeWolf Perry was the 18th Presiding Bishop.
In the film, Katrina Browne, a DeWolf descendant and producer and director of the documentary, narrates while cameras follow her and nine family members in retracing the route of the "Triangle Trade" in slaves, rum, sugar and other goods between Rhode Island, Ghana, Cuba and back to Rhode Island. Browne and family address complex issues of atonement and reconciliation during the journey.
The Assembly will also feature a series of workshops, said Gibson, followed by "site visits" -- formally referred to as learning tracks -- that will "highlight ministries of social justice with the Diocese of North Carolina."
Gibson said that for the first time youth will not have a separate gathering but instead will be an "integral part" of the adult assembly where they have "called for an intergenerational workshop."
Workshops will include:
- Caring for Needs: looks at Urban Ministries, the Greensboro Housing Coalition, Energy Committed to Offenders and Higher Ground
- Millennium Development Goals
- Empowering Tract: includes presentations from a self-help credit union and crisis assistance
- Advocacy for Economic Justice: addresses the work of the National Farm Workers and the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF)
- Truth and Reconciliation: presents strategies for beginning a Truth and Reconciliation ministry
- Healthy Dating: an intergenerational workshop that will focus on dating relationships in the prevention of long-term family violence and help teens form healthy interpersonal relationships.
The Caucus, said Gibson, will also honor all the "saints" -- lay and ordained people who have died since the last Caucus and were strong ministers for Social Justice -- at a jazz mass where Bishop Michael B. Curry of North Carolina will preach and Jefferts Schori will celebrate the Eucharist.
"We're hoping that people will look at these ministries that are taking place and see ways that they can either duplicate them at home or refine them to fit in with some of the work that's going on in their own diocese in terms of Social Justice ministry," said Gibson.
For more information on the EUC or its gathering, call Gibson at 212-699-2998 or email [email protected]