Asian, Black, Latino and Native-American Episcopalians gathered Tuesday to get acquainted, to define ways of participating in General Convention as a block, and to advocate for further inclusion in the life of the church. The “informal” caucus, self-named “People of Color” will set strategies to increase the visibility of ethnic communities and coordinate their legislative efforts.
Los Angeles clergy deputy Anthony Guillén, together with Warren Wong, lay deputy from the Diocese of California, and Chicago lay deputy Pat Abraham, led the caucus in discussing proposed resolutions and how they will be tackled in the following days.
“We intend to create some structure and organize ourselves,” Guillén said “We had never done this before, and this is very important because the ethnic communities are growing. The Episcopal Church is changing, we the people of color are more and more visible in the church and if we all come together we can have a stronger voice.”
He made clear that the informal group has no intentions of becoming lobby organization: “It’s not about achieving political clout within the church; rather, it’s about showing how beautiful it is that we are all in this together, people of different colors, different cultures, different languages.”
Guillén explained his own definition: “A person of color is a person who is not white or Anglo-Saxon, [including] Asians, Pacific-Islanders, Latinos, and Blacks, can be considered people of color.”
Wong, who represented the Asian community, explained that currently a number of Asians serve as church leaders, including Hawaii’s Bishop Richard Chang, and Oregon Bishop-elect Johncy Itty, a Gen-X priest whose family is from India.
For her part, Abraham said the “People of Color” group will also provide orientation to first-time deputies to familiarize them with the rules of the floor, and details of the legislative process. “We will also be a space for Black deputies to gather and discuss issues and resolutions, and get a wider and deeper understating of the matter they will be voting on,” she said.
Scheduled to meet regularly during Convention (tonight at 10 p.m. at the Hilton), the group will host a “Celebration of New Community” on Saturday, Aug. 2, 6-10pm, to which all are invited to celebrate the growing ethnic and linguistic diversity in the Episcopal Church.