In the USA in 2006 all the Episcopal Church’s dioceses were called on to investigate and report back on the part they had played in slavery and its aftermath of discrimination and segregation. New York diocese created a Reparations Committee to collect and document its findings. These come as a shock for many: “We have a huge bit of our history which has been lost and forgotten — sometimes intentionally. Most people think of slavery as entirely a Southern matter, so they’ve been surprised to find the extent of slavery in New York State”, the Bishop of New York, the Rt Revd Andrew Dietsche. The Reparations Committee went on to propose a three-year programme of lamentation, repentance, and apology, and reparation in the diocese to explore the weight of human suffering caused by slavery and give an opportunity for black and white Christians to grieve together.
In one church’s weekly liturgy, the congregation acknowledges before God “the pervasive presence of racism in our country’s origins, in our institutions and politics, in our diocese and its churches, and in our hearts”, and goes on to repent of “the many ways — social, economic, and political — that white supremacy has accrued benfits to some of us at the expense of others.” Midway through a Year of Repentance and Apology Bishop Dietsche says it is too early to to know what reparations might mean for the New work diocese "but apology without cost to it or action would be empty,"
In the UK in 2006 the Church of England's General Synod issued an apology for slavery but, unlike the Episcopal Church, little more has been done, symptomatic of “a collective, deliberate amnesia about slavery in Britain” according to Dr Duncan Dormer, General Secretary of USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). Several universities have begun to look into their links with slavery and they, with the churches, are "well placed to take the lead in this discussion ... The universities have the advantage of discipline in searching for truth, and churches — in theory — start from the premise of priority of relationship. My concern with reparations more widely is that you can send money as if that is enough, but still continue oppressive patterns of relationship. the primary concern has to be relationship.” Read the full article here. (A recent USPG conference also addressed this issue. Read more here.)
The question MJR would ask is this. Is the CofE, are any of the churches, ready or willing to take up this challenge?