Why Must The Episcopal Church Celebrate Black History Month
By Joe McDaniel Jr.
The Episcopal Church, like many other religious institutions, recognizes the importance of celebrating Black History Month. This monthlong observance provides an opportunity for The Episcopal Church (the “church”) to acknowledge and honor the significant contributions made by people of African descent to the church and society as a whole. There are several reasons why the church must celebrate Black History Month.
Firstly, celebrating Black History Month helps to promote social justice and equality within the church. By recognizing and appreciating the contributions of African Americans, the church sends a powerful message that it values and respects the diversity of its members. It also highlights the ongoing struggle for racial justice and encourages the church to continue working toward a more inclusive and equitable society.
Secondly, Black History Month provides an opportunity for the church to engage in reflection and education. It allows members to learn about the historical experiences of African Americans and the ways in which they have influenced and shaped the church. By studying the achievements and struggles of Black individuals, the church can gain a deeper understanding of racial issues and work toward reconciliation and healing.
Thirdly, celebrating Black History Month encourages the church to confront and address its history of racism and discrimination. The Episcopal Church, like many other Christian denominations, has a complicated past when it comes to race relations. By acknowledging this history and actively working to repair the harm done, the church can move toward reconciliation and create a more racially just and inclusive institution.
Furthermore, celebrating Black History Month can serve as a source of inspiration and empowerment for African American members of the church. It sends a message that their contributions, stories, and experiences are valued and recognized. This can help to foster a sense of belonging and strengthen the faith of African Americans within the church.
Lastly, celebrating Black History Month is an act of solidarity with the wider Black community. It shows that the church stands with and supports the struggles and achievements of African Americans beyond the confines of its own walls. It demonstrates the church’s commitment to social justice and its dedication to the pursuit of equality for all.
In conclusion, The Episcopal Church must celebrate Black History Month because it is an opportunity to promote social justice; engage in reflection and education; confront the church’s history of racism; inspire and empower African American members; and show solidarity with the wider Black community. By recognizing the contributions and experiences of African Americans, the church can work toward a more inclusive and equitable society.
Joe McDaniel Jr. is a member of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council. He is serving as the convener for the Deputies of Color for the 81st General Convention. He serves as the co-chair for the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast’s Commission on Racial Justice & Reconciliation.