In February 2017, The Episcopal Church’s officers approved a comprehensive strategic vision titled, Becoming Beloved Community: The Episcopal Church’s Long-term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation, and Justice. Proudly, our diocese’s Organization on Procedural Justice (OPJ) was listed in partnership with the Presiding Officers in the in the acknowledgments of the organizations and persons deeply committed to this work. (The acknowledgments can be found on page 4 of the document.)

The release of the strategic vision was the culmination of a year of listening, learning and discerning following the passage of Resolution C019 (Establish Response to Systemic Injustice) at the 78th General Convention and an allocation of $2 million to fund the ministry.

The vision included, as example, a citation from theologian and author Charles Marsh’s book entitled The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today. The introduction to this book is titled “Souls on Fire” and speaks about the December 1956 boycott in Montgomery, Alabama where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds the attendees that the boycott is not an end unto itself.

“The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. … It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

The Episcopal Church’s Becoming Beloved Community vision cites “widespread hostility to immigrants from Latin America; the deportation of millions and ripped families apart; structural poverty in indigenous communities, the detention and killing of unarmed black men, women, and children by the state,” and more. “Across the United States and into Europe, people from the Middle East…profiled as terrorists and enemies of ‘Western’ values. And human trafficking enslaves the most vulnerable in Asia, the Americas, and Europe…”

What I have learned is that the words ‘beloved’ (inferring extraordinary and intense love) and ‘community’ (which may infer a notion as broad as ‘humanity’ or as exclusive as ‘private club’) when linked together as “Beloved Community” go beyond exclusivity.

You can find the 23-page Becoming Beloved Community strategic vision at https://www.episcopalchurch.org/beloved-community

The Organization on Procedural Justice also worked to craft this resolution to the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, which passed in both houses.
D013 Eliminate the Provision for Legal Slavery in the U.S. Constitution

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That this 79th General Convention affirm the dignity of every human being created in the image of God and is therefore against all human slavery at any time, in any form, under any circumstance; and be it further
Resolved, That this 79th General Convention urge the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies to appoint a task force for the next Triennium of twelve people, consisting of theologians, constitutional law experts, litigators, legislative procedure experts, leaders and representatives from civil rights organizations, returning citizens, and criminal justice scholars knowledgeable of the history, content and lingering effects of Transatlantic slavery; and be it further
Resolved, That the task force develop strategies to remove the loophole language of Amendment XIII to the U.S. Constitution authorizing legal slavery past 1865; that reads, “Neither slavery nor indentured servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…”; and be it further
Resolved, That the task force work with the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations to collaborate with the Episcopal ecumenical/interfaith partners to support efforts in offering new constitutional language ending slavery ‘without exception’; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $30,000 for the implementation of this resolution.

Dr. Merelyn Bates-Mims is the founding chair of the Organization on Procedural Justice and a member of Christ Church Cathedral.