Episcopal Church’s presiding officers sign documents to create Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice

By ENS Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024

House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry signed documentation on April 17 to create the new Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice as an independent nonprofit. Photo: Amanda Skofstad/Office of Public Affairs

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris, The Episcopal Church’s two presiding officers, signed documentation on April 17 to create the new Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice as an independent nonprofit incorporated in New York.

The signing, which took place in Raleigh, North Carolina, ahead of Executive Council’s April 18-20 meeting there, is the culmination of a three-year effort by churchwide leaders to establish long-term and lasting commitments to the church’s ongoing racial healing framework. The goal, first identified by Curry and Ayala Harris’ predecessor, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, is to address the harms of the church’s complicity with white supremacy, colonialism and the racism that still is found embedded in the church and other American institutions.

An advisory group formed by Curry and Jennings had called for the creation of the coalition as one of its recommendations, encouraging the church and its members to embrace racial justice and truth-telling as a lifelong vocation. In July 2022, the 80th General Convention endorsed the creation of such a coalition to be “a voluntary association of Episcopal dioceses, parishes, organizations, and individuals dedicated to the work of becoming the Beloved Community.”

Church leaders are establishing the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice as an independent nonprofit so it can continue pursuing its mission regardless of any shifts in church leadership or future changes in ministry priorities under General Convention’s direction.

“While today’s news is in one sense legal and administrative, there is tremendous spiritual depth to what we have achieved these past years in our commitment to becoming the Beloved Community envisioned by Jesus of Nazareth,” Curry said in a news release. “We are called to the hard and holy work of love, and I cannot wait to see how the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice will carry this work into a sustainable, creative future.”

Ayala Harris called it “a historic step forward in our church’s ongoing work to dismantle systemic racism and build a more just and equitable future for all God’s children.”

“While there is still much work ahead of us, today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in our journey toward racial justice. Let us move forward with courage, compassion, and a steadfast commitment to creating a church and a world where all people are valued and loved.”

After passage of the General Convention resolution, Curry and Ayala Harris formed a group of Episcopal clergy and lay leaders to develop the structure of the coalition. Executive Council, the church’s governing body between meetings of General Convention, set aside $300,000 in 2023 and 2024 to help with the launch.

“The Episcopal coalition will breathe new life into the church,” said Ryan Kusumoto, chair of the coalition’s constituting group. “It will serve as a central point for the work of racial justice. Our next step is to bring individuals and groups together in this crucial mission and ministry.”

Future funding for the coalition will be based on 10% of the annual budgetary dividend, or draw, from The Episcopal Church’s unrestricted trust funds. It is due to receive $2.3 million in 2025-27, equivalent to 10% of the church’s budgeted draw on its unrestricted investment funds. Curry and Ayala Harris said in the news release that they intended to introduce a rare joint resolution at the 81st General Convention in June that would enshrine that funding mechanism in the church’s canons, to ensure the coalition’s long-term viability.