Reflections on the Atlanta Conversations by the Rev. T.J. Freeman

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to take part in a conversation initiated by the Absalom Jones: Episcopal Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, Georgia. The trip was short, but it was packed with small group engagements, prayer, and fellowship. There were clergy and laity from across the Episcopal Church. As a straight white male, I had the unique, to me, experience of being the minority in the room. In fact, at dinner the first evening someone thanked me for being there, because in their experience too often people like me do not show up to these conversations. I must admit to being a bit nervous about being there. Sure, I have taken part in different multi-cultural events and co-chaired a Black History Month celebration; however, when I took a hard look at what I have done in my life to work against prejudices and racism and for racial healing, my record is lacking.

 The truly amazing and inspiring thing about that short time in Atlanta was that admitting that I have not done enough, really anything, was accepted and welcomed as a valid starting point. My struggling with how to begin and how to guide my parish through the process of beginning was at that moment enough. Going forward there is so much work to be done and the Spirit is groaning for us to begin. It seems to me that the first step for those of us who are in positions of influence and power to authentically engage in the work of racial reconciliation and racial justice is admitting that we have not cared enough in the past, we have done enough in the past, but from this point forward we are going to begin working for peace and justice, so that all God’s children may come together as beloved community. Because we need each other; we need each other’s stories and truths, we need each other’s beauty, and being together, being one in Christ Jesus is what God expects of us.

Your servant in Christ…
T.J. Freeman
19th Rector, Trinity Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana