I attended the All Our Children Network’s national symposium in Columbia, South Carolina this week. Some of you may remember that the Diocese of Western New York hosted a regional symposium with All Our Children in May of 2016.
All Our Children is a network of congregations and dioceses and organizations who have partnerships with public schools and who advocate and work for equity in public education.
I was honored to be asked to be part of the panel on how the church is responding to issues of inequity in educational opportunity.
The panelists were asked what led to each of us, personally, being involved in working for equity. I told the story of my grandmother, Eddie. She was a strong advocate for racial equality. In Jim Crow era Mississippi she spoke out loudly for equality and justice. In 1956, I can clearly remember the KKK coming to her house to try to frighten her into silence. They failed. In fact, I think they strengthened her resolve to work for justice. I also mentioned the relationship with Bishop Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and our work together to make sure that everyone has a part in the renewal of our beloved city.
We were then asked to talk about what our organizations were doing to respond to inequity in education and in the broader society. That was my favorite part of the panel, because it gave me the opportunity to share some of the great ways that Episcopalians in Western New York are working to strive for justice and peace among all people.
I spoke of our congregations who have partnerships with public schools and the different ways that each partnership is making a difference. I got to talk about Good Shepherd, Buffalo; St. Paul’s, Harris Hill; Grace, Lockport, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Calvary, Williamsville.
I also told the story of Eaton Camp and the Children of the Book in Jamestown and the joys and successes and the challenges of both programs.
One of the great blessings of being the Bishop of Western New York is that I get to tell our stories. I am privileged to be able to share what you are doing with the wider church and the rest of the world.
In a cathedral full of advocates for education equity, from a wide variety of denominations and many secular advocacy organizations, I was proud to speak of the ways that we are making a difference and the ways in which you are making all of the children of Western New York our children.