Our representatives on the Diocesan Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination are Mother Barbara, Jean Gerlach and Barbara Yandian. They have planned several special events for our parish in 2023, including:
The Thomas Ashford Story: Jean, Barbara and Mother Barbara hosted a special coffee hour in our Parish Hall, where we viewed a short YouTube video, “The Thomas Ashford Story.” Tom was present with us, and answered questions and continued the conversation about his experience of attending St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the 1950’s, when it was a predominately White congregation.
Guest Musician, Jeremy Printup, Tuscarora Nation: we were delighted when Jeremy accepted our invitation to share his musical talents with us. He provided the offeratory music at our March 12 Sunday service, singing two songs with verses in Tuscarora and English. The congregation was visibly moved by his heartfelt singing and guitar playing.
Tuscarora Language Teacher, Caitlin Philips joined us at coffee hour on March 19. Caitlin shared with us her efforts in keeping the Tuscarora language alive. She teaches at the Tuscarora Indian School in Niagara-Wheatfield, and works tirelessly to raise awareness about the importance of protecting and safeguarding Native American cultural traditions. Part of her presentation touched on the abuses of forced assimilation suffered by Indigenous people throughout American history.
Book Study, Ladder to the Light: an Indigeneous Elder's Meditations on Hope and Courage by Steven Charleston. Rev. Charleston is one of the most spirit-filled inspirational writers in the Episcopal Church today. He served as Bishop of the Diocese of Alaska and President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School. He is a leading voice for justice for Indigenous peoples.
Field trip to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center: our Visitor Experience Specialist, Jasiah Jackson, conducted an informative and engaging tour with great enthusiasm, offering plenty of time for questions and offering deeper perspectives. The museum has acquired several primary sources that tell the story of how the sin of slavery continues to impact us today, and the hopes and dreams of all freedom seekers, past and present.
Read Bishop Sean's pastoral letter, written in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in 2020. Bishop Sean asks that we pray and work for an end to racial inequality, saying "...together, we can do the work of repenting of white supremacy and racism, committing ourselves to holy change and the peace of God which passes all understanding." This letter was the springboard to the formation of the Diocesan Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination.