What is Beloved Community?
First coined in the early days of the 20th century by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, founder of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, “The Beloved Community” envisions an all-inclusive world, in which love and trust triumph over fear and hatred, and peace with justice will prevail over violence.
The mission of Beloved Community is to help realize, “a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth; where poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated … and where racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.
The Christ Church “Beloved Community” Ministry
On June 20, 2021, in celebration of Juneteenth, the Rt. Rev. Carl W. Wright, Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Services and Federal Ministries, commissioned the members of Christ Church to form a new “Beloved Community” ministry.
The goals of this ministry are:
- To engage our church and our community in a collective, ongoing discussion to work toward improving relations among peoples of all races, creeds, and nations. There is no single path for every person. People will draw on different resources and experiences and come to diverse answers to similar questions.
- To bridge divides in our church and our community through learning, civil discussion, sharing, and when necessary, respectfully agreeing to disagree.
- To nourish multiple venues for engaging in the work of justice, healing, and reconciliation, and to understand the complexity and specific structural and historical challenges of our church, our nation, and our times.
- To reduce conscious and unconscious bias, calm social anxieties, and improve overall interracial interactions by seeking to understand and then to be understood.
- To partner with The Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s Reparations Committee and area historians to research and learn about the long and complex history of our church, particularly in the area of racial relations, to discover the truth about our past, to try to understand with open minds and hearts, and to learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness in return.
This ministry will be an on-going journey of learning, reflection, discovery, and respectful discussion, and we invite everyone to join us as we seek the paths of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We intend to meet regularly, to invite guest priests and speakers to offer their insight, and to develop curricula for our Youth and for Christ Episcopal School. If you would like to find out more about this new and growing ministry, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Ministry Activities
- During Lent, we led a series on the DIGNITY Lens, as part of Adult Christian Formation.
- We have written state representatives to support a bill for Restorative Justice for young adult offenders, as research demonstrates that alternatives to prison offer better outcomes for society.
- On June 13, 2021, an icon of Episcopal saint Harriet Tubman, created by parishioner Bill Thompson, was received and blessed.
Christ Church History Project
Our church has a long and complex history from the founding of the parish in 1726 to today. During the American Civil War, slaveholders and Unionists worshiped together side by side. History occurred on our doorstep, notably when Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart took the Christ Church Vestry hostage. Our records and history have some intriguing stories to tell. In order to grow as a community, we need to seek the truth of our history and to engage in civil, respectful dialogue about what we should learn to carry forward and what we should learn to never repeat again.
Over the last year, Christ Church has communicated with representatives from the Maryland Office of Tourism, the National Alliance of Faith and Justice, the National Park Service, the Network to Freedom, Peerless Rockville, Rockville Cemetery Association, Inc., and The Menare Foundation, Inc. These historians are eager to help us explore our records from the Maryland State Archives and to help us assemble the pieces we need in order to understand our history and learn from our past.
In addition, at the invitation of Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, Christ Church has recently become involved with The Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s Reparations Committee, a diocesan effort to answer The Episcopal Church’s call for a national commission to uncover, study, and propose solutions for repairing the injurious legacies of slavery and racism that remain present in our world. The Committee is encouraging area parishes to explore their histories and reflect on how slavery and racism may have influenced and affected their churches and surrounding communities.
Education, Dialogue, and “Sacred Ground”
Over the past several months, a group of our parishioners participated in the Episcopal Church’s “Sacred Ground” program, a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith, where groups are “invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.” Sacred Ground is the educational arm of “Becoming Beloved Community,” The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society.
Participation in the “Sacred Ground” series is NOT a prerequisite for engaging with the Beloved Community. All who feel called to this ministry are invited to join.
We hope to offer additional sessions of “Sacred Ground” in the future so that more people might have the opportunity to participate in this educational series and to join in these conversations.
Recommended Books, Websites, and Other Resources:
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- The Church Cracked Open by The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers
- Seeing My Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness by Rev. Peter Jarrett-Schell
- Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
- The King Center, achieving the Beloved Community through the King Philosophy – Nonviolence365®
- The Episcopal Church's Ministry of Racial Reconciliation
- The Sewanee “Roberson Project” on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation
- The William & Mary “Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation”
 Juneteenth, the federal holiday that marks the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States, is commemorated on the anniversary of the announcement on June 19, 1865 of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas.