Becoming Beloved Community

Why Do We Need This Commission? 

The Episcopal Church 78th General Convention proclaimed that after passing 30 resolutions over a period of 60-plus years the “abomination and sin of racism continue to plague our society and our Church at great cost of human life and human dignity. The General Convention formally acknowledged our historic and contemporary participation in this evil. The convention affirmed “as a top priority of the Episcopal Church …the challenging and difficult work of racial reconciliation through prayer, teaching, engagement and ACTION.


In response to this call to action, the Episcopal Church established the vision of Becoming Beloved Community. The Beloved Community is the body within which all people can grow to love God and love the image of God that we find in our neighbors, in ourselves, and in creation. It is the biblically based ideal that orients the work of racial healing, reconciliation, and justice. It is an ideal where each person is committed to the other’s flourishing and to the flourishing of the whole. 


In support of our National Church’s call to action Old Donation Vestry directed the formation a commission dedicated to help guide our church through the long, difficult, and challenging journey of participation in Becoming Beloved Community

MISSION: Prayerfully provide advocacy, leadership, awareness, education, oversight, and all other actions necessary to support Old Donation’s engagement in Becoming Beloved Community through the pursuit of racial justice, healing, and reconciliation.


VISION:  Old Donation is widely recognized as:

  •  An ever-growing community of reconcilers, justice makers and healers united by a passion for Gods dream
  •  A community that welcomes all and that lives its Call to seek loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships with God and each other. 
  •  A community “that looks like and acts like Jesus”


“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)

Becoming Beloved Community is a Godly ideal that orients the work of racial healing, reconciliation, and justice. Striving towards that ideal governs all actions undertaken by the commission.

We recognize that the road ahead is not ‘business as usual’. According to Presiding Bishop Curry: “we are becoming a new and re-formed church, the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement—individuals, small, gathered communities, and congregations whose way of life is the way of Jesus and His way of love.

We will promote awareness of and compliance with General Convention Resolution C019: to work for racial justice and reconciliation. We will take necessary actions to identify and combat systemic racism in our community and beyond

incorporating the four interrelated commitments of the Becoming Beloved Community in developing courses of action. The four commitments and their related Baptismal Promises are:

  • Truth Telling about our Churches and Race: Persevere in resisting evil and whenever we fall into sin repent and return to the Lord
  • Proclaiming the Dream of Beloved Community: Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ
  • Practicing Jesus’s Way of Healing Love: Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves. 
  • Repairing the Breach in Society and Institutions: Strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

We will create ongoing safe channels for dialogue and accountability between those who are targets of oppression and those who are advantaged by racist and oppressive systems. 


We will develop multiple courses of actions and activities that can be simultaneously undertaken to assist our journey into Becoming Beloved Community.  


We will seek and trust discernment, stories, and wisdom of communities of color and other underrepresented minorities and groups. 


We will align our actions with materials provided by the National Episcopal Church and its Racial Reconciliation Team.  Specifically:

  • “Becoming Beloved Community, Where You Are”, Episcopal Church pamphlet
  • “The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community” by Canon Stephanie Spellers
  • “Love is the Way” by Bishop Michael Curry
  • “Walking the Way of Love” edited by Courtney Cowart, executive director of The Society for the Increase of Ministry
  • “Becoming an Anti-Racist Church” by Joseph Brandt

We will continuously pray for guidance while undertaking the difficult work of dismantling racism and seeking justice.



Juneteenth is an appropriate day for Old Donation Church to annually take stock of what we have learned, done, and are committed to do. This increasingly divided world needs the Church to be leaders in the work of reconciliation. With 385 years of history, we have a spe- cial responsibility to know who we have been, who we are, and who God is calling us to be.

When we each look thoughtfully at our past, we find much for which we are thankful, and other aspects produce regret. Scripture tells us all have sinned. Our Book of Common Prayer calls us to confess things done and left undone. As is true for many organizations and churches, this includes Old Donation’s own troubled connection to slavery and the racism that both preceded it and has proceeded from it. The Gospel requires: “when offering your gift at the al- tar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5: 23-24)

God charges us to reconcile with those we have harmed. It is an essential element in repairing the damage and breaches created by sin. Reconciliation work is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and even painful, but necessary, to be in communion with God and with each other.

Old Donation Episcopal Church is intentionally working to understand and reconcile those challenging parts of our distant and more recent past:

  • A decade of study, reflection and personal growth led to participation in Sacred Ground Circles (now 65 participants), book studies, and other resources to broaden our understanding of racial injustice and the maltreatment of others. More Circles are planned for this year and future.

  • Our parish’s historical records confirm our direct history with slavery, including “Rachal” (a person actually enslaved and “owned” by the parish).

  • After rebuilding in 1916, through the Jim Crow era, and into our contemporary time, there have been a few clear efforts to support racial equality and justice, but those were often met with documented resistance.

  • Our parish is partnering with Norfolk State University, a Historically Black College and University, to work to repair the breach, including establishment of a scholarship fund in the name of “Rachal” to benefit students at NSU.

  • We established a permanent Becoming Beloved Community vestry commission to continuously seek, discern and execute ways to further repair the breach. This is not a short-term work, but part of our identity and long-term mission.

The road to reconciliation is NOT a cul-de-sac of shame and guilt, which would get us no- where. But we ARE called by Christ to be leaders in the hard work of building a new reality, becoming a beloved community. We have opportunity to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8) Paraphrasing St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, not that we have already achieved this goal... but we press on toward the heavenly vision that God in Christ has given us.

While we can and should be thankful for our efforts and others to date, we CANNOT let ourselves be satisfied. We ask God’s forgiveness for the things we have done and left un- done, and make a commitment that we will strive to do better. We pray that we can be am- bassadors of reconciliation in this world which so sorely needs that kind of leadership. It is fitting, therefore, that on this anniversary of Juneteenth, your Clergy and Vestry makes this statement of enduring commitment for reconciliation:

  • Old Donation will seek out and strive to tell the truth, particularly about ourselves, no matter how painful or inconvenient.

  • Old Donation will strive to thoughtfully put our history and world in context, honor- ing those who have come before us, while clearly acknowledging when we have gone astray.

  • Old Donation will seek out ways to positively impact underserved communities, par- ticularly those suffering from the impacts of racism, bigotry, and discrimination.

  • Old Donation will strive to reconcile our sins of commission and omission.

  • Old Donation will build partnerships to help us understand and make our efforts

    more effective.

  • Old Donation will continue to offer education and formation for all members in the

    areas of race, history, justice, and reconciliation.

  • Old Donation will always keep itself as a place where all are welcome regardless of

    color, gender, orientation, ethnicity, in an environment of mutual respect.


Read our most recent statement on Reckoning with Our History 6 March 2024.