A017 Assessment of Past Colonialism in the Church’s World Mission Ministries
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring,
That the 80th General Convention acknowledge and grieve the participation of the Episcopal Church and its various entities and institutions in colonialism in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia; and warns of and laments colonial mindsets in the Church today; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention affirm that Colonialism and its continuing impacts are antithetical to the Gospel as proclaimed by our Savior Jesus Christ, and that we are all called to repent and atone for the evils perpetuated in the name of Christ in the missionary field; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on World Mission (SCWM) encourage the Episcopal Church to use principles and practices which turn from the colonial mindset of the past towards mutuality of relationships in our mission, ministries, and outreach; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention direct the SCWM to deliver a report to the 81st General Convention on the historic role of the Episcopal Church in colonialism through its missionary work, and how and where a colonial mindset continues to prejudice our work in propagating the Gospel.
When the Church Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church met for the first time in 1828, the Rev. D. Wainwright offered the opening sermon which read in part: “The Indians of Western America and the isles of the Pacific are ignorant and degraded; the savage hordes of Africa are remote and intractable.” From the beginning, the missionary work of the Episcopal Church was wrapped up in the broader effort at colonization. In fact, the first missionary efforts undertaken in the Church were under the auspices of the Colonization Society.
Looking back we are now aware that Episcopal Missionary efforts, while always undertaken with the goal of propagating the Gospel all over the world, also suffered from the unmistakable connection to colonialism.
This resolution calls on the Church to review its missionary history from our founding to the present day in order to study and reflect upon the difficult reality of our complicity in colonialism and how we have unwittingly done harm to the propagation of the Gospel so that we can repent, ask forgiveness, make amends, and strive not to repeat those mistakes.