The Center for Racial Healing Advisory Board and Staff wish to express their deep gratitude to all of you who read our newsletter, made donations to the Center in support of our work, who hold us in your heart and prayers and who share the good news about the work that God allows us to do. It has been an amazing year which brings us to a point of deeper confidence about the capacity that we have to help in facilitating the long and strenuous task of racial healing work in our Church and in the wider world. I want to highlight our year a bit.
The International Women of Color and Wellness Conference which brought a diverse group of women together from Africa and Latin America along with Native Indigenous American, Latina, Asian, African-American and white women helped to affirm for the Center that there is a deep hunger in the hearts of many to gather in spaces with this type of carefully constructed diversity and to go deeply into the issues of the heart in search of wellness. The phenomenal responses that were made by everyone of the women in attendance about the value of their time together warmed our hearts and increased our resolve to stay faithful to the call to engage this work as we are doing. Many of the women who attended were not only grateful for the healing gifts that they received, but felt that the Conference helped them to gain a clearer idea of how to go forward with their work upon returning home.
The launch of the Bishop Barbara Harris Justice Project was held on November 16 and it was one of the most beautiful events that the Center has ever done. The service was designed by St. Luke's Rev. Elizabeth Caffey. She designed one of the most beautiful series of prayers and other words of encouragement that I have had a chance to witness in my many years of being in worship services. Bishop Rob Wright preached one of his very best sermons and the jazz band leader wrote a special song of tribute for Bishop Barbara taken from the title of her book, Hallelujah, Anyhow! Bishop Barbara was very pleased with the wonderful expressions of love, respect and gratitude that she received as we all did our best to let her know how much we appreciate the courageous and steadfast way that she has engaged her journey of faith and service.
We were blessed to have her good friend, Rev. Nan Peete, who once was our Diocese's Cannon for the Ordinary join us. We were truly blessed as a community by her presence and at dinner both of our lovely guests shared so many amazing stories with us which warmed our hearts.
It was our delight to re-purpose one of our rooms to create the Diane Pollard Reading Room at the Center which gave us the opportunity to host a lovely luncheon and program with our friends and Center family in Diane's honor. This has become the most favored place to sit for many of the Center's visitors and especially for students. This room was created in Diane's honor to let her know how much she is appreciated as a servant leader.
This year we have witnessed a major turn in the way that the Center is perceived in the local community surrounding it and by the students who make up the Atlanta University Consortium. We have had many more requests this year from the surrounding local community to use our space and we have been invited to be involved with a variety of community initiatives. Along with this change we have many more students stopping by the Center to study, grab a snack and a cup of coffee or simply to rest for a few minutes in our lovely quiet space between classes. This is very important to me because it is important for the Center to be an integral part of the community in which we are situated. Our relationships are growing each day and that is a reason for great joy.
The Justice Pilgrimage which began in May will be concluding with a final visit from the twenty participants from Province IV in February. You may recall that we began in May of this year with a representative from each of the twenty dioceses in Province IV and we have maintained periodic contact with them during this past six-months. The work has gone well for them for the most part and it will be a delight to welcome them back to the Center in February. Some of them have agreed to help in facilitating the new group which will convene in May 2020.
We began a series of immigration pilgrimages with an invited list of participants and we will continue this work in 2020. We invited twelve parishes in our Diocese to send representatives to the three-week series and we will continue to use that format until we can get to as many parishes as possible in 2020. We want to help in strengthening the work that is being done by mobilizing parishes that are not very involved and providing support for newcomers to the immigration struggle. This is not optional for us, we have to stay vigilant and we will.
The inter-generational work that we have done this year with teens and elders and with college students and elders has been heartening. When the racial healing conversation group came to the end of the time designated for it to meet the participants did not wish to have it end. While we will not continue to meet monthly, we have several plans for future periodic gatherings.
The inter-generational oral history project which focuses on teens and elders will convene again in late May with twelve teens and twelve elders. They will spend six weeks working together and they will produce a video of their interviews which will be screened at the conclusion of the six- week session. This is an ongoing initiative that will increase the number of participants each year.
While we have had this amazing year and are ending the year on a very high note both in terms of programs for next year and in friend and fundraising, we are very clear about the enormous challenges that face our nation in terms of our racial woundedness. Latinx children are still being held in horrible situations at the border. Our prisons are full of too many black, brown and poor whites who need something other than incarceration, we are not ready to be accepting of all of fellow sisters and brothers as equals in our communities and even in many of our churches. We know these facts and they trouble us.
But we are deeply grateful for the grace that makes it possible for us to say, Hallelujah, Anyhow!