Maryland Episcopal Diocese Commits $1M To Reparations For Slavery, Racial Injustice

Written by Ann Brown
The Maryland Episcopal Diocese has committed $1 million to a reparations fund for slavery and racial injustice. Photo: Unsplash

The Maryland Episcopal Church plans to create a $1 million reparation fund for programs benefiting the Black community as part of the church’s effort to make reparations for its role in slavery and racial injustice.

A majority of the churches in the Maryland diocese of the Episcopal Church built before 1860 were constructed using slave labor, according to research by historians.

The diocese includes more than 44,000 congregants who are 90 percent white in nearly 120 churches in Central, Western, and Southern Maryland.

A growing number of religious institutions in the U.S. have set aside large sums specifically for reparations, but this is the first in Maryland.

Responses to news of the Maryland Episcopal Church’s decision were mixed on Twitter.

“They will need way more than that #ADOS,” Sou Con Vo tweeted.

TripleAgent@NSCTripleAgent tweeted, “How do we know it will go to descendants of slaves?”

Brian A Monroe @RevMonroe tweeted, “Great news! Could do more but great news nonetheless”

The Maryland Episcopal diocese voted recently to establish the fund. More than 82 percent of delegates to the annual general convention voted in favor of reparations, The Baltimore Sun reported

The $1 million fund comprises more than 20 percent of the diocese’s operating budget, and existing endowment funds will provide the capital, WTOP reported. According to diocese papers, the 2020 budget is $4.7 million.

The reparation fund will be managed by the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Endowment Management Solutions program, which has more than $460 million in assets under management and includes partnerships with dioceses, churches, schools and other Episcopal organizations across the country. 

Diocese Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton suggested the funds might be used for job training, urgent care centers and housing assistance, among other efforts.

“We have done the work over the last 15-plus years to actually document how we as a church benefited from slavery and, after slavery, how we continued to benefit from the financial marginalization and oppression of Black Americans, and it just didn’t sit well with us,” Sutton told The Baltimore Sun.

“Why should we continue to benefit as an institution when so many in the Black community have never had the opportunity to have a good education, good jobs or good medical care? We’ve benefited from racist institutions, and now we are going to invest financially.”

Contributing $1 million “is going to hurt us, and it should,” Sutton said.

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According to a press release, the diocese is aiming for improved operations, benchmarked returns and competitive fees. 

“We are especially pleased to offer this investment opportunity, which will benefit our diocesan mission and the ministries of the congregations that invest with us, to our congregations and institutions. Investing with ECF will allow more of our resources to go toward mission through combined investing efforts, which reduce costs for all,” Sutton explained.