Black Anglicans of Canada aims to give life to church’s racial charter

Posted Jul 15, 2020

[Anglican Church of Canada] If you didn’t know the Anglican Church of Canada had a racial justice charter, you’re probably no different from many other members of the church, says Brother Reginald Crenshaw, a member of the Anglican religious community Order of the Holy Cross and part of the leadership team of Black Anglicans of Canada (Bl.A.C.).

In fact, the church has had a charter committing it to take action for racial justice since 2007—but not many Canadian Anglicans seem to know about it or to have acted on it, Crenshaw says. This, he says, has to change. It’s one of the reasons why Bl.A.C.—the establishment of which was discussed decades ago—has at last come into formal existence.

“Within our diocese [of Toronto], for one, the charter…is not well known,” Crenshaw says. “It’s been widely distributed, because it’s an official policy statement of the church, which means every diocese in this church has seen it or received it. But there has been no response to it.

“One of the reasons why our group has re-emerged is that there has been very little institutional life given to this document across the country, except probably with Indigenous peoples, because they’ve organized around these things as well.”

The origins of Bl.A.C. go back to 1994, when a group of Canadian Black Anglican clergy and laypeople began meeting to discuss the creation of a national association with local and diocesan chapters, much like the Union of Black Episcopalians in the U.S. For various reasons, Crenshaw says, an organization did not immediately result from these meetings, though they did bear fruit in one way: the tradition of an annual Black history service in the diocese of Toronto, the 25th anniversary of which was marked this February.

A turning point in Bl.A.C.’s creation came, as it turned out, with a service in 2017 in Toronto to raise funds for relief efforts in the wake of a hurricane that had swept through the eastern Caribbean. Galvanized by their success, the clergy and lay Black Anglicans who had organized this service met to talk about how they could work together for racial justice. 

Eventually a group of 32 clergy and laity from the diocese recommended forming an organization to “create a strong Black voice within the Anglican church,” Crenshaw says. In July 2018, Bl.A.C. was formed.

Full article available on the Anglican Journal website here.