HRI Book Study

HRI Purpose and Mission –

In 2016, the vestry of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Richmond, Virginia established the History and Reconciliation Initiative (HRI) and charged HRI with tracing and acknowledging the racial history of St Paul’s in order to repair, restore, and seek reconciliation with God, each other, and the broader community. HRI established a steering committee and sub-committees (memorials, liturgy/music, historical research) to complete its mission.


About the Book Study –

Join St. Paul’s this summer in reading, Blind Spots: Race and Identity in a Southern Church. This book is the outgrowth of a research report developed by the History and Reconciliation Initiative (HRI) research group, which delves into St. Paul’s history in relation to race, identity, and justice.

St. Paul’s will host a series of small group conversations (online and, potentially, in-person) to discuss the learnings from the book and explore what this means for St. Paul’s future. See below message from book author, historian, and committee member Chris Graham, about the development of the book and questions to keep in mind while reading.


How to Get Your Books –

All books are provided free of charge.

  • Home Delivery – e-mail your name, address, and how many books you would like to Lynn Williams HERE.

Upcoming Book Discussions | RSVP Today-

St. Paul’s History and Reconciliation Initiative (HRI) has created a unique opportunity for our congregation to deeply embody and incarnate God’s beloved community in Richmond. This vision draws from The Episcopal Church’s framework of “Becoming Beloved Community (BBC): Long-Term Commitment to Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation.”

This framework involves a four-phase process of congregational self-examination, discernment, and community engagement to address the legacy of systemic racism in our churches and communities. These dynamic phases are: (1) Telling the Truth, (2) Proclaiming the Dream, (3) Repairing the Breach, and (4) Practicing the Way of Love. Each phase is linked to living more fully into our baptismal vows to resist evil, proclaim the Good News, seek and serve Christ in all persons, strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being.

Consistent with this vision, St. Paul’s HRI has laid the necessary and painful groundwork of “Telling the Truth” about our congregational history of racism, slavery and segregation. Acknowledging and repenting of this history enables us to turn toward the important work of racial healing, justice and reconciliation while moving forward as the Body of Christ in Richmond.

Toward this end, we have designed two-part discussion series around Blind Spots: Race and Identity in a Southern Church by Christopher Alan Graham. Session One is dedicated to telling the truth about the St. Paul’s history of racism by exploring our past as recounted in Blind Spots. Session Two is devoted to beginning to proclaim the dream by together envisioning the behaviors, actions and commitments of St. Paul’s necessary to co-create with God the beloved community in Richmond.

We invite you to sign up to participate in these online book group discussions. Each session will be two hours long and held on Zoom. Below are the available times for each session. To RSVP e-mail Lynn Williams.

Each session will be 2 hours long and on Zoom.

Session One | Truth Telling

Monday, Oct. 5th | 7 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 7th | 12 pm
Thursday, Oct. 8th | 7 pm
Friday, Oct. 9th | 10 am

Session Two | Proclaiming the Dream

Monday, Oct. 12th | 7 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 14th | 12 pm
Thursday, Oct. 15th | 7 pm
Friday, Oct. 16th | 10 am

Questions: contact Director for Community Engagement, Lynn Williams.


More Information –

Rev. Charlie interviews members of the HRI Committee about the book release and next steps:


Message from the Author –

Greetings,

St. Paul’s History and Reconciliation Initiative is pleased to present the report of its historical research group – Blind Spots: Race and Identity in a Southern Church.

We had planned to host a Spring and an Autumn congregational discussion of the book that featured periods of discernment and periods of prayerful direction-seeking that would align with other HRI efforts and culminate with the kickoff of our 175th anniversary. The Coronavirus, however, derailed those plans.

Our discussions will move forward in a modified form later this summer and early autumn. Stand by for that agenda.

To be prepared for them, I hope you can approach your reading with these questions in mind:

  • What surprised you about this history? What disappointed you? What stands out as particularly important? What gave you hope?
  • What lessons can we take from the past about how we act in the future?

That second question is the key: in the end, this exercise is less about dwelling in the past, and more about how we absorb history’s lessons so that we can do better going forward.

So… read with grace, take lots of notes, think about the future, and come prepared to reflect and talk. We look forward to the conversation.

– Christopher Alan Graham


Click Here to read more about the History and Reconciliation Initiative.