Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future

Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future

February 2012, the Dismantling Racism Commission launched a diocesan initiative for congregations to examine their own history with racial injustice, called Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future. The Commission offers a tool-kit and resources for parishes to begin this conversation.


Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future initiative launched during February 2012 celebration of the ministries of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen


Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future, the diocesan initiative for congregations to examine their own history with racial injustice, is being introduced at this year's Absalom Jones celebration. The Dismantling Racism Commission offers a tool-kit and resources for parishes to begin this conversation.


Pt. 1 video: Bishop's introduction and Dr. Ernest "Rip" Patton's presentation on the Freedom Riders.

Bishop Smith: One of the strategies for dismantling racism is to uncover the past, all the hard things but also to recollect the good things. There is a building not very far from here, the old Court House. We need to know some things about that place. It was built using slave labor. That's a hard truth that needs to be uncovered. Every time we uncover and say out loud a hard truth we take away some of that truth's power over us. It was also a venue for selling slaves, there on the steps. Another hard truth. In the 19th century, it was also a visual marker for the underground railroad...go to the courthouse and you are almost free. Our commission on Dismantling Racism is committed to the power of story. They are providing us with the resources to uncover and tell the stories of our own venues, to take these hard things and say them out loud.


Pt. 2 video: Q & A with Rip Patton. Freedom Rider Patton spoke in detail about the action, and his subsequent time in Parchman State Penitentiary, how the students and other civil rights workers sang to each other while in prison, how they practiced non-violent resistance. He spoke about the role of the church then and today.


Pt. 3 video: Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future-Story telling, Truth telling.
+The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral: Introduction to storytelling. Every moment of our lives is a time when we can look back at the past and learn its lessons, that propel us into the future into new directions. In the Freedom Riders book there is an appendix of all the freedom riders including a group of Episcopal clergy from the Diocese of Missouri, and I believe they were from Christ Church Cape Girardeau and Holy Cross Church in Poplar Bluff. So this is a living piece of our history, this stuff is in our bones. And as we learn more about our past, and we learn how we've gotten here today, we start to realize the course that is charted for the future. It's the same way we look at scripture on Sundays, these are old, old stories, and yet there are new truths being revealed out of them at every retelling.
+ Understanding our Past: Ms. Adrienne Lemmons Dillon, commission member
+ Dismantling Racism, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and the Diocese of Missouri: Mr. Mike McDowell, commission member
+ Personal stories: Ms. Adrienne Lemmons Dillon
+ Personal stories: Mr. Will Gilbert
+ Community stories- Henry Shaw and St. Louis, Christ Church Cathedral: Dean Mike Kinman
+ Genesis 50: 15-21: the Rev. Emery Washington.

Workshop participants wrote a story of race from their personal experience, and one from their church or community on small cards. People then shared these stories with one another, and then a few with the entire group. Afterwards, the cards were laid upon the altar.


Pt. 4 video: Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future-Introduction to resources:
+The Rev. Emery Washington, diocesan priest and commission member, opens last session of the day with prayer
+Mr. Chester Hines, commission chairperson introduces Seeking Our Past, Creating Our Future program and history
+Dr. Rob Good introduces the resource materials for each parish compiled by the Dismantling Racism Commission
+Dr. Rip Patton offers final observations on the day
+Chester Hines invites participants to engage with upcoming events in dismantling racism
+The Rev. Renee Fenner, rector of St. Barnabas' Episcopal Church, closed the day with this prayer: Loving God, we give you thanks and praise for bringing us together yet one more time. Thank you for the stories that we have heard. Thank you for the dreams that have been expressed. May those dreams be turned into reality. Good, gracious God, with your Spirit, your sweet Holy Spirit, may we hold on just a little while longer, may we pray on just a little while longer, may we march on just a little while longer...because with your help everything is going to be all right. Amen.

To get in touch with the Dismantling Racism Commission, for your parish resource guide, to arrange a member of the commission to visit your congregation, to learn more about the work of the commission, please contact commission member Dr. Rob Good at .

Photo set from the day on flickr. Many thanks to the Rev. Marc Smith and the people of Ascension for the use of the video recording equipment.

More Info

Contact: the Rev. Chester Hines, chair, Dismantling Racism Commission