Reconciliation Service Raises Awareness and Creates Conversation

On Sunday, April 10, members of the Sewanee community gathered in the Chapel of the Apostles for a Service of Reconciliation and Healing sponsored by the School of Theology.

The Rev. Deborah Jackson, associate dean for community life, and the School of Theology's Committee for Diversity and Reconciliation envisioned the service as a continuation of efforts to raise awareness around all forms of prejudice and discrimination, and to create spaces and conversations that encourage healing and growth.

The program included hymns, praise music, story sharing from members of the Sewanee community, and prayers acknowledging and asking for healing from the pain and history of racism and prejudice. Portions of the service were adapted from the Community of Reconciliation Service that took place at the Washington National Cathedral in 2009 and from the Seeking Christ in All People Reconciliation Service held  at Christ Church Cathedral in 2014.

The School of Theology choir and Sewanee Praise, the University’s Gospel choir, provided the music for the service. It was the first time that Sewanee Praise had performed in the Chapel of the Apostles.

Speakers shared personal narratives surrounding their experiences with racial issues and prejudice and included Jonathan Brown and Cindy Cruz, current College of Arts and Sciences students; Ricardo Sheppard, a School of Theology student; and Connie Kelley, a Sewanee community member.

April 10th's service was the last in a series of events hosted by the School of theology during 2016, beginning with a Commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in January. Rachel Taber-Hamilton came to the Mountian and spoke to the Sewanee community in January about "Native American Peoples and The Episcopal Church." February and March offered a documentary film and discussion of "Can I Get a Witness? Sewanee's St. Mark's Community" and a lecture by Dr. Saleh Sbenaty on "Islam: Truths and Misconceptions," respectively.