The Youth Theological Initiative gathers rising high school juniors and seniors from across the country to Emory University for a three-week experience in Christian theological education. Their goal is to cultivate public theologians for the church and world.We are so delighted that this year, the YTI Summer Academy participants visited our center to ponder and discuss tough theological questions in a supportive community. We spent our time in deep dialogue on questions such as "Did God make everyone in God's image?" and "Does God love everyone equally?" As human beings we must embrace these questions because it is critical in determining how we interact with one another. This time sowed with the students reaped the fruits of engagement, education, edification, and exploration. We are thrilled that we were able to broaden our horizons and get a fresh perspective on how youth engage with the topics of racial healing and reconciliation in their lives!
There are not enough words to express the enormous amount of love and positive energy we received and shared with all of the attendees at this year's convention. Each day, we educated the wider church community on the purpose and placement of this center. To say we were well received was an understatement! In addition to hosting a table decorated with an abundance of information about our work we also hosted a sponsored luncheon and two informational sessions for a personalized experience. We connected with over 300 new people and each person was informed on how to get connected and stay connected with our work surrounding racial healing, justice, and reconciliation. Dr. Catherine Meeks gave a riveting speech in a TEC Talk surrounding Racial Reconciliation and received a standing ovation for her truth and wisdom. It was amazing to hear some of the initiatives churches in dioceses as far as Honduras were taking to be mobile advocates for justice. We are excited to partner and support all dioceses who are concerned about the well-being of our brothers and sisters in the church and community. The next General Convention is in three years and we are counting down already!
On June 28, 2018 at 11:00am, women clergy and lay persons from the diocese of Atlanta gathered to welcome Rev. Dr. Angela Shepard as rector of St. Barts Episcopal Church. As the first African American female rector in the diocese of Atlanta, The Absalom Jones Center was proud to host a celebratory brunch for Rev. Dr. Angela Shepard to honor her accomplishments and share well wishes and love for a fruitful future. If you missed the event, take a moment to watch our video!
Last June I had the amazing honor of being at the Christian Scholars Conference in Nashville, Tennessee and sitting at the feet of the humble giant, Dr. James Cone, while he talked about the liberating force of Christianity. He was magnificent in spite of my sense of his frailness and a nagging cough that plagued him throughout the conference. Those things were not enough to dull the clear headed manner in which he presented his paper and participated as a respondent to others who were speaking about his work during the sessions.
For over fifty years he brought a clear critique of the culture that has done so much to sully the name of Jesus and the faith that we named after him. Earlier in his life he spoke in passionate defense of the religion that was often characterized as the “white man's religion” by many African Americans who had grown weary of it and sought to find meaning to life's large questions elsewhere. But he argued that, "Christianity was not the white man's religion," he said, “It is a religion of liberation, a religion that says God created all people to be free. But I realize that for black people to be free, they must first love blackness.”
“People have (with the help of conventions) oriented all of their
solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of the easy;
but it is clear that we must hold to what is the difficult.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta held to the difficult for the past six years as a small group of faithful folks met every other month to imagine the way forward for the challenging work of dismantling racism in the Diocese. Prior to the installation of a new Bishop and a new Chair of the Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism; the group was known as the Anti-Racism Commission whose major contribution was hosting the training mandated for persons who were seeking to be ordained or serve as leaders in the Diocese.