More than 500 people attended the service, during which Western North Carolina Bishop G. Porter Taylor acknowledged the church’s participation in slavery and the long oppression of Afro-American people. Taylor formally apologized for these sins and asked for forgiveness.
The two-hour-and-twenty minute service was sponsored by the diocese’s Commission to Dismantle Racism.
A massed choir, composed of singers from Trinity, St. Matthias and the Cathedral of All Souls, provided a program of music, while members of the congregation were offered the opportunity to receive an anointing of holy oil and a blessing from clergy and lay ministers, black and white.
The processional banner, chasuble and stoles used in the service are visual representations of the healing and reconciliation the service was aiming for.
On behalf of the diocese, Canon Osondu McPeters presented the presiding bishop with a college of words–feelings originally expressed by people in the diocese after viewing the film “Traces of the Trade,” a film that tells the story of the DeWolf family, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history and also a prominent part of the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island. James DeWolf Perry was the 18th presiding bishop.
General Convention 2006 passed several resolutions on the subject of the church’s complicity in slavery as well as other forms of exploitation and abuse of non-white peoples. The resolutions called on dioceses to explore the history of slavery and its aftermath and to find ways to seek reconciliation and healing.