Anti-Racism and Reconciliation Commission

Prior to COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions, in early February 2020 for the Lenten Clergy Conference, Constance and Dain Perry were invited to the diocese for a screening of the documentary, Traces of the Trade.  Dain is a descendant of the DeWolf family, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history.  The film examines that history and the legacy of slavery in America today.  Constance is a descendant of people who were enslaved in the South.  Following the screening, the Perry’s led the clergy of the diocese in conversations about White privilege, their own histories and experiences of racism, and the importance of being a prophetic voice in their faith communities.

In July, following the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the diocese again invited the Perry’s to facilitate a diocesan wide book group, focused on the text Waking Up White by Debbie Irving.  The book group met weekly during the month of July and roughly 100 people across the diocese participated.

Inspired by the courageous work of the book group, Bishop David Rice and Canon Anna Carmichael began to discern the need for an Anti-Racism and Racial Reconciliation Commission in the diocese.  In October of 2020, the Commission was formed and held their first organizing meeting.  At present, the members of the Commission are:

  • The Rev. Deacon Stephen Bentley, St John’s Stockton (co-chair)

  • The Rev. Cn. Anna Carmichael (co-chair)

  • Ms. Constance R. Perry (consultant)

  • Ms. Barbara Vassell, St Paul’s Modesto

  • Ms. Julia Schardt, St John’s Stockton

  • Mr. Jack Peck, St James Cathedral, Fresno

  • The Rev. Nelson Serrano-Poveda, Latino Missioner

  • The Rev. Peter Ackerman, St John’s Lodi

At that first meeting, the bishop presented his charge to the Commission:

  • Identify local advocates in each faith community to connect the work of the Commission to the congregation

  • Provide education and advocacy opportunities to the diocese

  • Provide resources and support to local congregations

  • Encourage and support opportunities for action that is rooted in the gospel

Since that initial meeting, the Commission hosted a diocesan wide follow-up conversation with the Perry’s on November 17th entitled “Putting our Awakening into Action”.  In this gathering, individuals and congregations shared the work they had been engaging in since the Waking Up White book study.

As a Commission, we are still getting to know one another and are building our team.  Part of that work will be to not only provide resources and opportunities to the diocese, but also to do some internal work as a group by doing a book study on Begin Again by Eddie Glaude Jr.  While this book study won’t be open to the diocese as a whole at this time, we encourage individuals and faith communities to read this important text on the work of James Baldwin and how we continue to support his legacy.


Our projects for 2021 include:

  • Provide monthly educational opportunities for congregations

  • Connecting with other faith community partners such as Faith in the Valley

  • Connecting with other dioceses in Province VIII and sharing resources

  • Building a Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion glossary

  • Building a Resource Library which includes films, documentaries, programs/curriculum, books, articles and podcasts

  • Creating a logo which represents who we are and our mission to become the Beloved Community

  • Supplying content in English and Spanish

  • Creating bilingual liturgies for diocesan events and celebrations


We look forward to journeying with the people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin as we become more inclusive, more diverse, more aware of our privilege in the world, and anti-racist in a world that so desperately needs to be loved and respected.


Anglican Communion

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4147 East Dakota Avenue, Fresno, CA 93726

Phone: (209) 576-0104