OUR MISSION

Our Mission is to provide tools and experiences that allow faith communities  and the larger community of individuals to engage in dismantling racism through education, prayer, dialogue, pilgrimage, and spiritual formation. 

 
 

Read A New Vision By Dr. Catherine Meeks


Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism is the name that we chose when we renamed our anti-racism commission. When our new Bishop, Robert Wright, met with us he asked that we consider a name change because there was so much negative reaction to the name that we had. After much conversation and reflection, we agreed upon the current name. This name actually embodies our vision. We are trying to help construct the beloved community and in order to do that, racism has to be dismantled. This change has generated much positive energy.

Along with this change, we made another very significant change regarding our trainings. We added the celebration of Holy Communion to each training session. Though the celebration at the table is never a small matter, this change has had a phenomenal impact upon the quality of response to the training. Even the reluctant participants who attend the required training seem to find themselves more able to engage the day's hard work than was true before we began starting the sessions in this way.

Further evidence of this new energy is reflected by the fact that we now have parishes inviting the training teams to their individual campuses for the sessions instead of trying to see if they can find ways to avoid the training altogether. There have been a few convocations who have organized a training session for all of the churches in their convocation. This is especially exciting to us because ultimately this work has to become an ongoing part of the work of the church and this is a small step in that direction.

Our commission has worked very diligently to form a broader vision of its work and while the work of dismantling racism is a long and arduous journey, we are seeing the fruit of our efforts though the harvest continues to be small. We have expanded the work to include facilitating our participation in the Jonathan Daniels and other Alabama Martyrs Pilgrimage in Alabama, discussions of books, film screenings and discussions, a repentance and reconciliation service, a new conversation on race discussion group and a conference on the theologian and spiritual activist Howard Thurman.

It is the intention of this commission to make it clear through all of its work that dismantling racism is a part of one's ongoing spiritual formation. The work is not finished when one leaves a training session or a particular event. It is the work of a lifetime just as all other spiritual formation work happens to be. This is a notion that is beginning to gain a bit of energy and it is heartening to our members to see that spark.

Though we are clear that we cannot do all that needs to be done, it is also clear that we can achieve far more than we have done in the past by pursuing collaborative partnerships with local parishes and convocations, reaching out to the national missioners for social justice and racial reconciliation, and clearly articulating our vision and needs to the bishop.

The support that has come from Bishop Wright is also quite heartening to us. He issued his first pastoral letter on the subject of racism and the need to dismantle it in support of the repentance and reconciliation service organized by the commission. This letter was either read or distributed by mail to all of the communicants in the Diocese of Atlanta. Some congregations are beginning to address this issue parish wide instead of just sending a few people to a required dismantling racism training session.

The recent events across our country make it clear that a new conversation on race is much needed and they should be enough to silence anyone who wants to argue that such conversation is no longer needed. While most of us wish that we
could move on to some of the other many social challenges facing us, race continues to be the text and the subtext of almost every other social challenge before us and will not allow us to put it aside.

Racism is an issue that has to be faced in a straight forward and courageous manner and what better place for this work to occur than in the church where we all have a commitment to someone larger than ourselves who can help us find the courage to travel on the road to racial healing and reconciliation.





OUR HISTORY

Almost two decades ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta responded to the General Convention mandate to offer anti-racism training to all leaders by forming a commission to address racism. Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism sought to heal the chronic illness of racism in our faith community by creating awareness of its existence in our ongoing spiritual formation.

​By 2016, more than 1500 were touched by the Commission’s work. It was time to consider how to expand this important work to reach even more people. The Center for Racial Healing is the next step. It is where clergy, lay leaders, and community members can engage in a brave dialogue that leads to real and lasting change. Changed people can create change in our institutions, which in turn becomes change in our society.

The Center, which opened in October 2017, offers a model of prayerful education that forms and reforms individual and
collective action: a defined curriculum, thoughtful training, pilgrimages, and dialogue. Guided by faith and led by intention, the Center will continue its important work until our work is no longer needed. We seek the beloved community and the rewards of living life in that community - free of racism.

White Room

OUR LOGO

Logo Artwork by Melise Fathi
Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing

“The Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing is imagined as a brave space where there is enough courage to allow for racial healing and reconciliation to occur.” Within the sphere of this objective this logo is designed to honor and recognize the ones who have embarked on this journey thus far as well as inspire and encourage those who will set out on the journey through participation and leadership in this sacred and important work.

This logo integrates and combines African symbols from West Africa known as Adinkra. These are visual symbols created by the Ashanti of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. The two symbols are Woforo Dua PA A and Mpatapo. In their meanings we may interpret the embodiment of the vision, mission, and goals of this center.

Woforo Dua PA A is the symbol of support, cooperation and encouragement. This is taken from the expression “Woforo dua pa a, na yepia wo”, meaning “When you climb a good tree you are given a push.” This expression promises that if you work for a good cause you will get support. The second symbol incorporated into the logo is Mpatapo, or “the knot of pacification and reconciliation.” This symbol embodies reconciliation and peacemaking after strife. Those who may find themselves in dispute are united and bound together in peace, harmony and reconciliation. The logo features Mpatapo at the center as in our reconciliation and peace surrounded and supported by Woforo Dua PA A. Our vision and goals of the center through the work of dismantling systemic racism and personal prejudice is embraced and surrounded by the support, encouragement and cooperation of those who seek and foster racial healing.

Along with designs and symbols, color may also convey symbolism and meaning. The colors of Kente cloth, a colorful woven cloth of South Ghana may be utilized. In Kente cloth maroon represents Mother Earth and healing; green represents spiritual growth and renewal. Blue represents peace, togetherness and harmony. This logo is designed with the mission, goals, and vision of the center as its inspiration and hope.

 

OUR LEADERSHIP

Catherine Meeks, PhD, is Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. Prior to the center's opening she chaired its precursor, Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. A sought-after teacher and workshop leader, Catherine brings four decades of experience to the work of transforming the dismantling racism work in Atlanta. The core of her work has been with people who have been marginalized because of economic status, race, gender or physical ability as they pursue liberation, justice and access to resources that can help lead them to health, wellness and a more abundant life. This work grows out of her understanding of her call to the vocation of teacher as well as her realization that all of humanity is one family which God desires to unite.

Catherine is the retired Clara Carter Acree Distinguished Professor of Socio-Cultural Studies from Wesleyan College and Founding Executive Director of the Lane Center for Community Engagement and Service. She characterizes herself as a midwife to the soul of her students and workshop participants. She has spent many years sharing the insights that she gained from her pursuit of the truth. She has had many great teachers including her sons, the Bible, Jungian psychology, cross cultural stories and other books of wisdom.  But her greatest teacher is rheumatoid arthritis because it has forced her to learn many new ways to listen to her body and to pay attention to the messages from her heart.  She is frequently asked to present commentaries on Georgia Public Radio and other radio and television programs. She is the author of six books and one inspirational CD and is the editor of the bestselling book, Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America and co-author of Passionate for Justice: Ida B Wells as Prophet for Our Times. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University and PhD from Emory University.

Connect with 

Dr. Catherine Meeks

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Instagram

The Rev. Dr. Ken Swanson, Ph.D., Chair

Sheryl H. Bowen || Peggy Courtright, J.D. || Clint Deveaux

 Judy Fielder, CNM || LaFawn Gilliam || Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring || The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior 

The Rev. Julia Rusling || The Ven. Juan Sandoval || Malinda Shamburger

The Rev. Fabio Sotelo || Ken Stewart

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

OUR TEAM

The Rev.

Donna Mote, PhD

Coordinator of ReImagining Policing and Public Safety Project 

 

Read A New Vision By Dr. Catherine Meeks


Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism is the name that we chose when we renamed our anti-racism commission. When our new Bishop, Robert Wright, met with us he asked that we consider a name change because there was so much negative reaction to the name that we had. After much conversation and reflection, we agreed upon the current name. This name actually embodies our vision. We are trying to help construct the beloved community and in order to do that, racism has to be dismantled. This change has generated much positive energy.

Along with this change, we made another very significant change regarding our trainings. We added the celebration of Holy Communion to each training session. Though the celebration at the table is never a small matter, this change has had a phenomenal impact upon the quality of response to the training. Even the reluctant participants who attend the required training seem to find themselves more able to engage the day's hard work than was true before we began starting the sessions in this way.

Further evidence of this new energy is reflected by the fact that we now have parishes inviting the training teams to their individual campuses for the sessions instead of trying to see if they can find ways to avoid the training altogether. There have been a few convocations who have organized a training session for all of the churches in their convocation. This is especially exciting to us because ultimately this work has to become an ongoing part of the work of the church and this is a small step in that direction.

Our commission has worked very diligently to form a broader vision of its work and while the work of dismantling racism is a long and arduous journey, we are seeing the fruit of our efforts though the harvest continues to be small. We have expanded the work to include facilitating our participation in the Jonathan Daniels and other Alabama Martyrs Pilgrimage in Alabama, discussions of books, film screenings and discussions, a repentance and reconciliation service, a new conversation on race discussion group and a conference on the theologian and spiritual activist Howard Thurman.

It is the intention of this commission to make it clear through all of its work that dismantling racism is a part of one's ongoing spiritual formation. The work is not finished when one leaves a training session or a particular event. It is the work of a lifetime just as all other spiritual formation work happens to be. This is a notion that is beginning to gain a bit of energy and it is heartening to our members to see that spark.

Though we are clear that we cannot do all that needs to be done, it is also clear that we can achieve far more than we have done in the past by pursuing collaborative partnerships with local parishes and convocations, reaching out to the national missioners for social justice and racial reconciliation, and clearly articulating our vision and needs to the bishop.

The support that has come from Bishop Wright is also quite heartening to us. He issued his first pastoral letter on the subject of racism and the need to dismantle it in support of the repentance and reconciliation service organized by the commission. This letter was either read or distributed by mail to all of the communicants in the Diocese of Atlanta. Some congregations are beginning to address this issue parish wide instead of just sending a few people to a required dismantling racism training session.

The recent events across our country make it clear that a new conversation on race is much needed and they should be enough to silence anyone who wants to argue that such conversation is no longer needed. While most of us wish that we
could move on to some of the other many social challenges facing us, race continues to be the text and the subtext of almost every other social challenge before us and will not allow us to put it aside.

Racism is an issue that has to be faced in a straight forward and courageous manner and what better place for this work to occur than in the church where we all have a commitment to someone larger than ourselves who can help us find the courage to travel on the road to racial healing and reconciliation.





MEET

ABSALOM JONES

 

JOIN THE MOVEMENT!

SIGN UP FOR OUR MAILING LIST TO RECEIVE NEWS AND UPDATES.

VIEW PAST NEWSLETTERS HERE

ADDRESS:

807 ATLANTA STUDENT MOVEMENT BLVD.

ATLANTA, GA 30314

EMAIL:

CENTERFORRACIALHEALING@

EPISCOPALATLANTA.ORG

404-601-5335

PHONE:

© 2020 by The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing

 Proudly created by SocialShifter.com