Justice Commission of the Diocese of Maine
Bishop Brown spoke of the formation of the Diocese of Maine’s Justice Commission in his statement on June 11, 2020. The chair of the Justice Commission is the Rev. Eleanor Prior of the Cathedral of St. Luke, Portland. Staff liaison for the commission is Emily Keniston, Director of Faith Formation. The commission will integrate existing committees and networks, such as Episcopal Peace Fellowship and the Committee on Indian Relations with new initiatives to equip us for the hard work of listening, learning, and joining together to work for racial justice. Thanks to everyone in the diocese who shared their views and provided input through the Faith & Race Survey. Read more about the survey results here. They will help guide the commission in its work with and for you.
Diocesan Convention 2020
The Justice Commission put forth several resolutions that were considered and adopted by the 201st Convention of the Diocese of Maine on October 17, 2020. The first two resolutions supported the Bishop’s creation of a new Justice Commission and Racial Justice Council and two related initiatives that adopt language contained in a letter to the Church on Breaking Free of White Supremacy and a Covenant to Root Out Racism.
The letter, written by the Revs. Stephanie Spellers, Winnie Varghese, and Kelly Brown Douglas, expresses the belief that with God’s help, The Episcopal Church can become an instrument not of oppression but of God’s peace. The Covenant of Anti-Racism is a relationship of commitment between God and God’s people written in response to the death of George Floyd and others in police custody by the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson of the Diocese of Missouri.
Both documents will serve as a template for the new racial justice council as it works to help Episcopalians in Maine recognize and respond to the 21st century systemic injustices that still occur in multiple contexts.
Finally, the convention approved a resolution submitted by the Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations to support the recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. The resolution was drafted to support LD-2094, a bill currently on the docket, introduced with a statement of support from John Dieffenbacher-Krall, and was amended from the floor to include language supporting substantially similar legislation offered in the next legislature.
The creation of the Justice Commission, Racial Justice Council, and Climate Justice Council – affirms that the Gospel and our Baptismal Covenant call individuals and churches to find more effective ways to respond to racial injustice in Maine. The Racial Justice Council will help all congregations to engage in appropriate actions and responses in order to be ready and able to listen to diverse neighbors to develop reconciling relationships.