Diocesan Leaders in Black Ministries Create Network

The Office of African Descent Ministries
Posted Jul 22, 2022

Attendees of the first annual Black Ministries Convocation held on June 21-22 in Atlantic City, New Jersey

In the wake of the events surrounding George Floyd’s death, many dioceses throughout the Episcopal Church appointed missioners to strengthen Black ministry initiatives within the church and community. In June, the Office of African Descent Ministries gathered the body of Black Missioners together for the first annual Black Ministries Convocation.

The 2-day convocation in Atlantic City, NJ, drew 19 participants from 15 dioceses throughout the church. The convocation was led by The Reverend Canon Ronald Byrd, The Episcopal Church’s Missioner for African Descent Ministries, and Canon Annette Buchanan, former national president for the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) and active lay leader in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Jersey. For many of those in service, this was the first opportunity to build relationships, collegiality, and support in this holy work.

The genesis of the gathering came from The Reverend Kathy Walker, Missioner for Black Ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

“Several months ago, Missioner Ron Byrd and I were engaged in a conversation about Black churches.  I suggested that it would be great if all of the people who were engaged in Black ministries could meet and offer support and collaboration across our dioceses to one another.  We know that we have many of the same challenges and historical neglect.  We also possess tremendous passion and commitment as we walk with historically Black congregations towards the Beloved Community.”

The gathering offered space for reflection on the State of the Black Church and ADM Initiatives.  Time was given to celebrate successes, share best practices and resources, and generate fresh ideas. The Office of African Descent Ministries facilitated communication and developing a shared mission, which will strengthen the effectiveness of these offices and continue the church’s social justice witness to the broader community.

The convocation will continue to network and strategize their shared mission, using their diocesan roles and influence to advocate for the uplift, sustainability, vitality, and empowerment of people, congregations, and ministries of African descent in the Episcopal Church.