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Video series invites Episcopalians to revisit slave trade, share truths about race today Door of Return: Racial Truth and Reconciliation Pilgrimage

April 19, 2018
Office of Public Affairs

Door of Return: Racial Truth and Reconciliation Pilgrimage to Ghana is a series of three powerful, short films and discussion tools that open conversation about race, faith and the path toward healing.

The videos were filmed during a pilgrimage led by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Episcopal Relief & Development to Ghana, West Africa. A group of 23 pilgrims visited sites critical to understanding the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its legacy. They traced the journey of captured Africans to the coastal “castles” or slave forts of Elmina and Cape Coast, where they were held before being forced onto ships bound for the Americas. The Anglican Church actively blessed these forts and the slave trade for much of its history.

“We went as followers of Jesus, pilgrims daring to face a painful past of the enslavement of human beings by other human beings,” Presiding Bishop Curry said. “A sinful and evil past in which even our own church was complicit and woefully silent. And yet, we came away, not paralyzed by the pain of the past, but committed to following the way of Jesus of Nazareth and forming God’s beloved community. So now we invite our fellow Episcopalians to join us on that journey and in that work of racial healing and reconciliation.”

The series focuses on three individual profiles narrated by pilgrims Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry; Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina; and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care. In each profile, the narrator shares his/her personal journey and reflections while visiting the slave forts and other sites, and how this experience impacted and transformed their lives and ministries.

“Slavery is the most evil form of turning people into objects,” Bishop Waldo begins his narrative in the video.  “If we don’t understand it, we can’t change what we are doing.  We will continue to objectify people in their daily lives.”

The videos and the accompanying discussion guide are designed to open reflection on the slave trade and its legacy, the church’s role in racial injustice, and continued efforts for truth-telling and healing.

The videos may be watched as standalones or together, and are appropriate for personal and/or group viewing. They are ideal for congregational, community, diocesan or province-wide discussions such as adult forums, justice ministries, social outreach, anti-racism ministries, formation, schools and other areas concerned with racial reconciliation, justice and healing. The comprehensive study guide includes discussion questions and a list of resources and readings.

The videos and discussion guide are available for viewing or download at no fee here.

The video series and pilgrimage were developed through a partnership with the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief & Development.

For more information contact Spellers at The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers or Sarah Alphin, Associate for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care, at Sarah Alphin or 212-716-6102.