We heard a lot about the new All Races One Church (AROC) Fund of the North Carolina Synod at our 2021 Assembly. This is not your typical budget line item; this is money that makes a difference. This is money that uses our prophetic voice, one of our core values as a synod, to provide hope and healing. This is something new that will give our synod strength for the journey as we support our already vital and vibrant congregations and rostered leaders of color.
At the beginning of the assembly, we heard from Pastor Richard Hogg who shared the vision and dream of this fund from our own African Descent Strategy Team. Paul Philips, our synod treasurer, told us about new seed money for the All Races One Church Fund and the hope that this seed money will grow.
In Bishop Tim Smith’s reflection, we heard about the long process and the hard, holy conversations that went into this new dream for our synod with our African Descent Strategy Team, the Mission and Ministry Committee of Synod Council, and our synod’s Directors for Evangelical Mission. We seek to celebrate our siblings of color and provide a vibrant future for them as whole and healthy leaders, and ensure that we have vital and diverse congregations. Together as a synod, we passed the budget and therefore established the All Races One Church Fund of the North Carolina Synod.
We’ve started a fund, we have the seed money, but our work is far from over as we begin this groundbreaking work toward racial justice in our synod.
It is our aspirational goal that this fund will allow for reconciliation to occur on our part as the NC Synod, as we confess and acknowledge the sin of racism that has been present in our synod dating back to the formation of our synod—including our failure to acknowledge the Alpha Synod and our lack of support for candidates of color seeking calls in the call process. This fund is a step towards having everyone in the room where it happens, at the heavenly banquet that Jesus invites us all to, celebrating the gift and vibrant ministry that all the congregations in our synod are to the whole church. As Bishop Smith and treasurer Phillips explained, we still don’t know exactly what this seed money in the All Races One Church Fund will be used for. But we do know—and hope and pray—that this money will be used to continue these vital communities for years to come.
Over the next few months, a steering committee entirely comprised of persons of color will be formed to decide the next steps for the All Races One Church Fund of the NC Synod, ELCA.