The Black Experience in the Episcopal Church
After graduating from Divinity School, I studied Protestant, African American denominations, or “The Black Church” – concentrating on the politics of gender and sexuality in Black Theology and in the worship experience. A recent move to Buffalo, NY lead me to an administrative job in a large, urban, Episcopal Church. As an African American woman in a predominately white church I became curious about the small number of Black families who are active, regular members of the congregation. I’ve since learned that there is a vibrant Black Episcopal church in Buffalo, and I wondered why some families would prefer to attend the church where I work while others would prefer and “all-black” worship experience.
African Americans, Caribbean Americans and African immigrants have a long history of carving out a space for themselves within the Episcopal Church. Black Episcopalians currently make up about 6% of the Episcopal Church as a whole and worship in historically black congregations or as minorities in mainstream congregations.
I am currently working on a research project exploring the experience of Black Episcopalians in Western New York. The study will attempt to address the following questions: What is the role of religion in the formation of racial identity? What role should religion play in racial justice? How do Black Episcopalians experience being ‘Episcopalian’? How can we raise awareness about the Black experience in the Episcopal Church within Black Church studies?
How do contemporary issues like #blacklivesmatter, the election of President Trump, and the Installation of the first African American presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael Curry shape the social justice ministry of the Episcopal Church as a whole?
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