What is St. Harriet’s Guild? 

St. Harriet’s Guild is an anti-racism group dedicated to acknowledging and deconstructing systemic racism and white supremacy within the church and society. Through the Lilly Foundation and Episcopal Church Foundation, the Guild will be receiving training and leadership resources to ensure HFASS is creating lasting change that will make a difference in our community.

Silence is Racism and HFASS does not want to be part of the problem; rather, we long to join in solutions. We understand, as a majority white congregation, our imperative is to seek Black and Brown voices for their guidance on anti-racism work. Exploring the works of Rev. Lenny Duncan, Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, and Ta’Nehisi Coates, we recognize the collective call for reparations as a road to healing systemic racism.

At HFASS, God’s grace is the common denominator that binds us to each other and the whole world. Grace feeds our souls and breaks our hearts, heals and challenges us, and –most important of all– never runs out. We have come to realize that justice is parallel and key to grace. Just as love should be poured out, so too should equity rain down. We can be the change by providing reparations to those the ELCA has hurt, including BIPOC members and congregations.

What Do We Mean by Reparations?  Why Reparations? 

Reparations are active amends to the wrongs we have done. This can be a variety of things: apologies, compensation, rehabilitation, coalition building etc. In this case, we are speaking of monetary reparations. This is important because the ELCA has directly benefited from slavery. 

ELCA Pastor Lenny Duncan writes “the effects of slavery and the lack of generational wealth are still felt in every black community today. Gentrification, lack of black-owned businesses in our own neighborhoods, disparity in higher-education rates, the unraveling of the black family, and much more can be traced back to slavery.” Therefore, we make reparations to begin paying forward for past and continued hurts that stemmed from the slavery that the ELCA has benefitted from. This includes failing to financially support BIPOC churches, pastors and their retirement needs. 

Reparations as a Spiritual Practice at HFASS (Past/Present/Future)

Two practices in the church year-the giving of “30 pieces of silver” on Maundy Thursday, which we donate to a community that we have betrayed, and the Selling of the Indulgences bake sale on Reformation Sunday-have been a part of our story of giving financially to communities that may not receive the resources of other organizations. The financial resources have gone to Four Winds American Indian Community, Second Wind Fund, the Gathering Place and Auraria Campus Ministry to name a few. As a future practice, the Guild is pursuing ways to give financial and time resources to BIPOC churches, local businesses, &/or already established programs that promote equity for BIPOC Coloradans. We hope to engage with other congregations so that we can expand our table of worship and learning. 

Reparations and Racial Justice in the ELCA and Rocky Mountain Synod

The Rocky Mountain Synod (to which we belong) has made a statement about the toxicity of settler colonialism and Manifest Destiny, in which they acknowledge the harm done to Indigenous folks in the name of Christianity.  They’ve invited speakers like Tink Tinker and Cynthia Moe-Lobeda to synod assemblies for discussions. As part of the Rocky Mountain Synod’s commitment to reparations, the synod relinquished ownership of the building at 5th and Bannock Street to Four Winds American Indian Council, who had been meeting there for years (and also where HFASS first met). However, when Tink Tinker addressed the synod, he made it clear that this initial reparation is only a beginning of the reparations needed for BIPOC communities. We agree and pray we are a part of addressing the need for further reparations from our synod and congregation.  

How Do We Plan to Move Forward? – Three pillar approach 

  1. Learn & worship- Continual learning in areas of white supremacy, criminal justice reform, housing, education and more. We plan to expand our learning through music, liturgical practices, and various voices and viewpoints. 
  2. Financial Action – Build upon our practice or giving to communities that we have harmed. 
  3. Partnership building – Research BIPOC churches and organizations that we can partner with to build collective power. Coloradans for the Common Good(CCG) is one of the organizations we have already partnered with.

How You Can Get Involved

Plans for the first quarter of 2021 and Upcoming meeting dates:

  1. January 20th (Wednesdays for 4 weeks)-Catechism class focused on foundational learning of racism and the church.
  2. For Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 17th, we will have a plan for giving to a reparations fund.
  3. We will be pursuing a continued partnership with CCG and others involved with the goal of building relationships.