The Most Rev. Michael Curry, our Presiding Bishop, has invited Episcopal Churches to take part in a national action to remember and honor the first enslaved Africans who landed in English North America in 1619 by tolling their bells for one minute this Sunday, August 25 at 3 p.m. (EDT).
St. Margaret’s has accepted Bishop Curry’s invitation and will ring our bell at 12 noon.
A national event will be held at Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia, on Sunday to mark the anniversary. Bishop Curry is expected to attend this event.
In his invitation, Bishop Curry said, “I’m inviting us as The Episcopal Church to join in this commemoration as part of our continued work of racial healing and reconciliation…to remember those who came as enslaved, who came to a country that one day would proclaim liberty. And so we remember them and pray for a new future for us all.”
“The first African people were brought to this continent in harrowing and dehumanizing circumstances. As we remember the 400th anniversary of their arrival, I pray that we will do the hard work of reconciliation that God longs for us to do,” said Susan Goff, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. “God forgive us. God give us courage and resolve. And God bless us.”
“With bells tolling across America, we pause to lament the centuries of suffering and wrenching grief of slavery and racism in our land,” said Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. “The first slave trade ship to land 400 years ago planted the seed of sin that spread through the active participation and complicit passivity of nearly every American institution. As we grieve, may we dedicate ourselves to addressing systemic racism and the multi-generational impact of enslavement and discrimination faced by all of the African diaspora.”
As the landing point for the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies in 1619 and the site of the first emancipation policy decision during the Civil War, Fort Monroe played a role in both the beginning and the end of the slave trade in the United States.
The author gratefully acknowledges Episcopal News Services for providing the quotes used in this article.