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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. 

Our Mission
Advisory Board

ADVISORY BOARD

 

 The Rev. Shaneequa Isaiah Brokenleg ||The Rev. Canon David Ulloa Chavez ||

The Honorable Clint Deveaux || Judy Fielder || LaFawn Gilliam||

The Rev. Simon Mainwaring || The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior ||

The Venerable Juan Sandoval || Malinda Shamburger ||

The Rev. Fabio Sotelo || The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers || Ken Stewart

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The Rev. Greg Warren

Interim Executive Director

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Sandra Tarver

Executive Assistant

TEAM

Our History

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.

Peale, Raphaelle, “Portrait of Absalom Jones,” 1810

Absalom Jones was America’s first black priest. Born into slavery in Delaware at a time when slavery was being debated as immoral and undemocratic, he taught himself to read, using the New Testament as one of his resources. At the age of 16, Jones’ mother, sister, and five brothers were sold, but he was brought to Philadelphia by his master, where he attended a night school for African-Americans operated by Quakers. Upon his manumission in 1784, he served as lay minister for the black membership at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church with his friend, Richard Allen, and together they established the Free African Society to aid in the emancipation of slaves and to offer sustenance and spiritual support to widows, orphans, and the poor.
 

The active evangelism of Jones and Allen greatly increased black membership at St. George’s. Alarmed by the rise in black attendance, in 1791 the vestry decided to segregate African Americans into an upstairs gallery without notice. When ushers attempted to remove the black congregants, the resentful group exited the church.
 

In 1792 Jones and Allen, with the assistance of local Quakers and Episcopalians, established the “First African Church” in Philadelphia. Shortly after the establishment that same year, the African Church applied to join the Protestant Episcopal Church, laying before the diocese three requirements: the Church must be received as an already organized body; it must have control over its own affairs; and Jones must be licensed as lay-reader and if qualified, ordained as its minister.

Upon acceptance into the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the church was renamed the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. The following year Jones became a deacon but was not ordained a priest until 1802, seven years later. At 56 years old, he became the first black American priest. He continued to be a leader in his community, founding a day school (as African Americans were excluded from attending public school), the Female Benevolent Society, and an African Friendly Society. In 1800 he called upon Congress to abolish the slave trade and to provide for gradual emancipation of existing slaves. Jones died in 1818.  (Source: Archives of the Episcopal Church)

The Reverend Absalom Jones, 1746-1818

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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.

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