2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved African arriving in Virginia, and we find ourselves in the midst of an important and long-overdue national conversation about race. As we seek to be Christ’s Beloved Community in and for the world, we must acknowledge and confess our own participation in America’s Original Sin and recommit ourselves to be “repairers of the breach, restorers of streets to live in” (Isaiah 58:12). The Diocese of New York has asked each parish to explore its historical connection to slavery, and parishioner Sarah Cunningham took up that work on our behalf.
On Sunday, November 24, 2019, St. James’ acknowledged the ways in which enslaved labor helped create the wealth necessary for the construction and operation of our church in its early years in the form of a new memorial plaque near the Madison Avenue entrance. The plaque reads:
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” — John 8:32
In solemn remembrance of the enslaved persons whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of St. James’ Church, Hamilton Square, 1810
Christ, have mercy.