ABOVE PHOTO: Elon Cook
One of the darkest chapters of Rhode Island’s history involved the state’s preeminence in the slave trace, beginning in the 1700s. More than half of the slaving voyages from the United States left from ports in Providence, Newport and Bristol–so many, and so contrary to the popular image of slavery as primarily a scourge of the South, that Rhode Island has been called “the Deep North.”
In response the Episcopal diocese of Rhode Island under the leadership of Bishop W. Nicholas Knisley, who took over in 2012, has established the groundbreaking Center for Reconciliation at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence.
“The Center for Reconciliation fosters inter-racial reconciliation through programs that engage, educate and tnspire. We envision a time when people of all races are reconciled to one another,” said Bishop Knisley.
The Center for Reconciliation, currently in its initial start-up stage, will be a place where people can experience reconciliation and be engaged in the work of reconciliation. We envision a teaching museum that explores the intersection of faith and the slave trade, performances, lectures and educational experiences where people can be transformed and learn how to become reconcilers,” added Knisley.
The Center for Reconciliation will be based at the Cathedral of St. John, where one or more worshiping communities that embody reconciliation will bring the voice of the faithful to this work.
While the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is taking the lead in organizing the Center for Reconciliation, this project will be an effort that engages the city, state and even partners from around the nation. “Several of our area colleges and universities are already finding multiple ways to join this effort as are a wide range of organizations,” the Bishop continued.
This is going to be an effort of many people. The public can help make this dream a reality and make Rhode Island a place people turn to when they want and need reconciliation. To learn how you can connect with the Center for Reconciliation, email Elon Cook, program coordinator for the Center for Reconciliation at [email protected]
Share names of people and organizations you think would be interested in this vision. Tell us about programs you’d like to see as part of the Center for Reconciliation Help us identify donors, foundations and granting agencies who can help fund this Contribute your gift or volunteer to help one of the Work Teams.
Added Ms. Cook, “To send us suggestions, to volunteer, to help or to sign up to receive updates about this project sign up for the Center’s E-Newsletter.”
Consider making a gift to the Center for Reconciliation. Gifts can be made on line or mailed to:
The Center for Reconciliation
c/o The Diocese of Rhode Island
275 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02903