“Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
BCP, Collect Proper 20, p.234
This prayer is likely common to you as it was recently a part of the Lectionary a few weeks ago (September 19, 2021) and appears each year around the change of season into fall. We are “placed among things that are passing away." The Diocese of Newark's Anti-Racism Commission, known as Namaste, is experiencing such a transition.
Our Commission (current membership listed below) has spent the spring prayerfully reconsidering the Mission and Vision Statements. The last version was compiled in January of 2018. So, many would say it’s time for new Statements. After several meetings, the Commission is proud to share this:
What is the ultimate aim (the “North Star”) which we are working to achieve, that orients our (and others’) work?
Lay and clergy in our Diocese will have the skills, tools and confidence to become catalysts for us all to understand the origin and impact of racism, to speak about race and own our discomfort in doing so, and to commit to being anti-racists.
We envision a beloved community whose members recognize and celebrate the Christ within all and are energized and inspired to continue the work of learning, introspection and taking action to build that community in daily life, in church, and in society.
Why does the Commission exist? What is its singular role in working towards the Vision?
The Commission provides a safe space for learning and skills development to equip congregations and individuals to:
Understand the origin, pervasiveness, and impact of racism,
Gain practice in speaking with honesty and vulnerability about the impact of racism in their life, and
Develop the commitment and a plan for tackling the issue of racism in their life and in their faith communities.
The Anti-Racism Commission has largely been responsible for the required anti-racism training for clergy and lay leaders seeking to serve on diocesan boards (as stated in the resolution from the 137th Convention of the Diocese of Newark). The Commission also accepted Bishop Hughes' invitation to sponsor a three-part speaker series in November/December 2020, as well as host a Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate Prayer Vigil in March 2021.
In the recent years, when not preparing for anti-racism dialogues, the Commission has spent some intentional time getting to know one another and discussing books. Some of the recent reflections have included Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong and The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness by Rhonda V. Magee.
At a recent monthly meeting the topic of the Commission's name of Namaste was raised. Members felt that it was time to drop that portion of our name and be more direct in the work in which we engage. Our discussions are uncomfortable, our work is not easy, and the ever-presence of white supremacy and hatred in our world, society and church would indicate we should be more direct in our title. We are aware of the discussion about trying to avoid the term "anti" anything, however our current membership feels strongly that our goal is to help others work towards being an Anti-Racist. At this time, any other name for the Commission would confuse our role. So, effective immediately the Commission will return to using the name Anti-Racism Commission only.
With Bishop Hughes’ additions of two other Committees around this work – the Racial Justice and Healing Commission and the Racial History Committee – we look forward to how we can partner with an even larger pool of anti-racists to affect change in our diocese and beyond.
If you are interested in attending our upcoming workshop, scheduled for three consecutive Saturday mornings – November 6, 13 and 20, please register on the diocesan website. Currently there is no cost to attend this training and all sessions are held via Zoom.
Anti-Racism Commission Members
Ken Bledsoe, St. James, Ramsey
Bill Cruse, St. John’s, Ramsey
Helen Dannatt, Christ Church, Newton
Janelle Grant, St. Paul’s, Paterson
Jane Jubilee, Diocese of Newark
Valyrie Laedlin, St. George’s, Maplewood
Robert LaPene, Christ Church, Harrison
Margaret King, St. Paul’s, Englewood
Biancia Malone, Epiphany and Christ Church, Orange
Jerry Racioppi, Holy Spirit, Verona
Jerrick Rutherford, St. Andrew Holy Communion, South Orange
Tristan Shin, Christ Church, Short Hills
Michele Simon, St. Paul’s, Englewood
Joan Slepian, Redeemer, Morristown
Sun Spriggs, St. George’s, Maplewood
Virginia Whatley, St. Paul’s, Paterson