SOCIAL JUSTICE MINISTRY
All Saints Sharon Chapel is committed to carrying out our Baptismal Covenant’s promise “to strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being” – while acknowledging that discrimination and hatred based on race/ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, religion, and age are ingrained in this country’s history and still take place in our society every day.
We are blessed to have a diverse group of parishioners who believe that each of us is a child of God who brings unique value to our community. With God’s help, the Social Justice and Racial Reconciliation initiative is allowing us to build stronger connections with each other and with the surrounding community.
The Social Justice and Racial Reconciliation initiative is currently focused on two areas: raising our awareness of social justice and racial reconciliation issues and taking actions in support of these causes.
In December 2015, the Social Justice and Racial Reconciliation team convened a meeting with parishioners to discuss social justice issues in the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown during the riots which took place in Ferguson, Missouri. Parishioners of varying ages, races, and overall perspectives shared their thoughts on confronting racism and upholding social justice, and they discussed how Christ is making His presence known in the midst of our current conflicts in society.
During the summer of 2016, several parishioners participated in a reading club with other Northern Virginia Episcopal churches; the reading club read Between the World and Me, a book written by African American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates as a letter to his teenaged son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being African American in the United States. Group members held weekly conversations throughout the summer about the book and shared their candid feelings about many of the painful issues which Coates raised.
In December 2016, approximately 20 parishioners gathered at Hoffman Theater in Alexandria to see the movie “Loving,” the real-life story of Mildred and Richard Loving’s fight for the right to live as a mixed-race married couple in the commonwealth of Virginia during the civil rights movement. After viewing the film, we held two discussions after the following Sunday’s services to explore our feelings about the film and the social justice and racial reconciliation issues which it highlights.
In March 2017, we organized an outing for 20 parishioners to visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC; it was a wonderful opportunity to see the scope of African American experiences throughout history depicted so movingly.
Under the leadership of our rector, the Reverend Cayce Ramey, our parish has been involved in several events and initiatives in support of the cause of social justice and racial reconciliation; these events and initiatives include the following:
A special service at All Saints Sharon Chapel in remembrance of Natasha McKenna, an African American woman who died in police custody in a Fairfax, Virginia jail in 2015.
Participation in Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.
Participation in “The Triangle of Hope”, a partnership between the Dioceses of Virginia, Liverpool (England) and Kumasi (West Africa) -- three areas once connected by the slave trade -- which is dedicated to transforming the long history, ongoing effects, and continuing presence of slavery in our world through repentance, reconciliation, and mission.
A forum entitled “A Mile in These Shoes: Understanding Privilege in our Desire for Christian Unity” held in August 2017 at All Saints Sharon Chapel.
As a parish family, we will continue to explore ways in which we can deepen our awareness and act in support of social justice and racial reconciliation, and with God’s help we will remain committed to continual learning and growth together.