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Toward Columbus: Deputies of Color reassemble for 75th General Convention
Diverse group hopes to be supportive model for action

By Daphne Mack
[Episcopal News Service]  This June will find the Deputies of Color united for a second General Convention to address a variety of issues and resolutions.

After a weekend conference in Columbus, Ohio April 1-2, 48 of the more than 200 deputies of color began discussions that resulted in the identification of resolutions most pertinent to the caucus.

"We wanted to explore in board, broad strokes what the issues are," said the Rev. Lloyd S. Casson, rector of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew, Wilmington, Delaware, and one of four caucus leaders. "We represent a very broad group of people so our concerns are not homogenous."

Deputies of Color - Hispanic, Native American, African American and Asian - is an ad hoc group formed to enable and support each other while at convention. They first gathered at the 74th General Convention.

"We are not an ongoing organization," said Casson. "We all have caucuses of one kind or another and this is not to supplant what those individual caucuses do. But it is to recognize that it's important for us to have a concerted thrust at convention."

By recognizing their common agenda, Casson said, they can support each other so it becomes "a very strong coalition" and "models what political action in this country could be."

Casson explained that during the conference, legislative issues were assigned and small teams formed "who will do the work of exploring the full implications of a report or resolution coming before convention."

"When we meet at convention," he said, "the reports from the teams will help us establish our platform and decide what order of priority we'll do things."

Issues and resolutions

"One very important resolution we will be looking at is the presiding bishop election," said Casson. "We'll be looking together at the candidates and hopefully coming to a unified position as to who would most represent the whole church, thereby representing our concerns."

Resolution A063, proposed by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, is also being studied. It would add several people to the church's calendar of saints known as Lesser Feasts and Fasts on a trial basis for the next three years (The trial basis is the standard procedures for calendar changes. The 76th convention could then be asked to make the additions permanent.) One of the seven additions would designate either March 13 or November 8 in memory of the first Black bishop in the Episcopal Church, James Theodore Holly of Haiti.

The issue of adequate funding for Ethnic Congregational Development and maintaining the support for the Episcopal Church's historically Black colleges is being addressed.

The group is also looking at resolution A123 and A124, both proposed by the National Concerns Committee of the church's Executive Council.

Resolution A123 declares that the institution of slavery in the United States and "anywhere else in the world" was and is a sin. It would have the church acknowledge and express regret for its support of slavery and for supporting "de jure and de facto segregation and discrimination" for years after slavery's abolition. The resolution also asks the Presiding Bishop to call for a "Day of Repentance and Reconciliation" and to organize a service to be held that day at Washington National Cathedral.

Resolution A124 would direct the Anti-Racism Committee of the Executive Council in the next triennium to collect information on the complicity of the church in the institution of slavery in the United States and in the subsequent history of segregation and discrimination; the economic benefits the church derived from the institution of slavery; and how the church can, "as a matter of justice," share those benefits with African American Episcopalians.

"We are also focused on HIV/AIDS with people of color and youth in the United States as well as around the world," said Casson. "Our concern is to make sure that that issue is on the table."

Some other areas they will concentrate on include:

  • Church support of the Millennium Development Goals
  • Immigration and border issues
  • Hurricane Katrina and poverty
  • Resources for domestic deeds rather than war.
  • Support for the work of Native Americans' work in the church and in the country
  • Asian health care
  •  Hispanic worship life in the church.