Briefly describe your experience in church governance.
My experience in Church Governance began when I served as part of the Official Youth Presence at the 1997 General Convention in Philadelphia. That launched me into heavy Diocesan involvement as a youth and young adult that continues today and includes Diocesan Council, Union of Black Episcopalians, Disciplinary Board, Commission On Ministry and Episcopal Service Corps. At the General Convention level as an adult I served as an alternate once and then three times as a clerical Deputy from the Diocese of Massachusetts. I’ve served on the Committee for Nominations, the GC Committee on World Mission and have chaired GC Committees on Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice & US Policy along with the Presiding Officers Advisory Group On Beloved Community Implementation.
Why do you want to serve as President or Vice President of the House of Deputies?
I love Jesus, I love people, I love our Church, I love Justice and I love enabling God’s people to share their gifts for God’s Kingdom and our mutual joy. I also am constantly seeking ways to amplify the more marginalized voices. Our House of Deputies and our Church as a whole has an abundance of resources (human, financial and otherwise) to make God’s Kingdom come alive in precisely the ways most needed at this time. I want to serve as President to offer my gifts and experiences as a multi-cultural/lingual Afro-Latino Christian/Episcopalian, Community Organizer, Creative thinker and Liturgist. I also want to infuse our House and Church with the Joy that will strengthen our ministries in the midst of multiple pandemics. As we get set to take bold steps around Racial Healing and Climate Justice this Convention I would welcome the chance to both keep us engaged in some places and out of the way in others. Most critically, I want to serve as President to play my part in making God’s dream for us come true as we jointly create a church that honors our ancestors, engages and lifts up the Christ in ALL and blesses generations to come.
Describe your most meaningful experience in a leadership or legislative role, and explain its relevance to your candidacy. (This experience need not have taken place within the church.)
Nearly four years ago I was asked to chair the Presiding Officers Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation. Our charge, collaborate with God’s people along with the DFMS staff to provide grant funding to those doing the work of Beloved Community in their contexts and gathering laborers for Racial Justice as part of a Summit or Summits. The advisory group has been one of if not the most diverse group I have ever served or lead. We oversaw four rounds of grants, including two more focused grant rounds in response to racial violence against black bodies and in response to the rise in violence against our siblings of Asian descent. We created paths for collaboration and are doing the ongoing work of harvesting our successes and learnings to share broadly. On the Summit front, we had a fabulous Summit organized to take place in Minnesota May 2020. In response to George Floyd’s murder and in support of our grantees and partners we held a smaller gathering that May along with much larger gatherings in July August that engaged thousands of Episcopalians from throughout the globe. Some of our key questions: “How is our work saving lives?” “How can we best provide God’s people with resources?” guided us along the way. At a recent meeting we’ve re-affirmed our commitment to the work and especially the spreading of the Good News of what you all are doing for our mutual learning and inspiration.
This experience, a wonderful one, is relevant for several reasons. It required the bringing together of diverse voices and the challenge of simultaneously doing the work while creating community among the workers. It required creating rhythms of work and sabbath and being responsive when the needs of our world interrupted patterns and plans. It required navigating Covid-19’s impacts not only on our committee but the many groups we fund. It required engaging and managing the at processes of dispersing funds, reporting and utilizing the systems established by our Church. It required working with and at times pivoting as energy, life demands and other things required people to change how they participate in our work. These experiences, along with the areas in which I feel I did well and those I could certainly improve will help me navigate the role of President of the House of Deputies.
What are the most significant challenges facing our church and how do you propose to address them?
Our challenges are the challenges of our world. Where can we be safe? How can we come together across divisions? How can we all heal? Where and how do we find hope during these times of despair? These are questions I hear in el barrio right around my parish and throughout the community. We speak of relevance, which touches on it in some ways but not totally. I think the better question is are we fulfilling our unique role as the church in our communities and as part of these struggles? Often times the challenge is discerning our role and the ways we can bring our unique gifts. Often times we need to transform the ways we work and collaborate with others. I had the pleasure of being lead by a bunch of young poets, leaders and organizers as we responded to George Floyd and they were pretty clear about where they felt our church could show up. Neither of these is possible without building and growing the meaningful relationships within our contexts so that we can do ministry with each other and amongst the wider community. It is only then that we can share our Gospel in the ways that meets the hunger in our midsts. Addressing these issues is the work of generations and I believe that if we can focus and excel on relationship we can make major strides. This means strengthening relationships between us, between our parishes, between our Diocese and Provinces. This means navigating our cultural and linguistic differences to harvest their strengths, not just their challenges. This means also figuring out how we as individuals, parishes, dioceses and other meaningful clusters root and relate where we are and how to best use resources to support that. Through it all we will foment our relationship with Jesus through prayer, liturgy and study. It is through committing to this work anew we can live into being the church our world needs today.
Are there specific changes you would like to make in the way the House of Deputies functions or the role the president and vice president play in the wider church?
Truth be told, since announcing my candidacy the most challenging thing I have had to do is explain what the House of Deputies is to my friends outside of the church and even to my parishioners! I adore the House of Deputies and I am convinced that the time, energy, and gifts of so many faithful Christians can be more effectively and publicly spent. I am very aware of the challenge of balancing General Church ministry alongside one’s livelihood, one’s parish, one’s family, and one’s commitment to justice in your own context. At the same time I’d love to lift up our diverse and collective voices around our ministries and mission in between the Conventions. The Episcopal Church is beyond the US, we sing, pray, preach in many different languages and I want our Convention to reflect that more meaningfully. I would also work to structure Conventions where after having worked through the legislation we all, in committees, as a whole, in small groups and alongside the Bishops figure out the “now what” and “how is this implemented” while we still have so many brilliant, Spirit-driven people in one place. Allowing us to generate world-changing momentum. As president, I would be excited to get your voice and my own out there on diverse platforms so that more partners and collaborators can emerge.
Is there anything else voters should know about you?
It’s not my place to say that I’m inspiring however I can say that I’m inspired. Inspired by Jesus, inspired by so many of you, my siblings in the church. Inspired to say yes to something far beyond my individual ability because I know who has my back. I am excited to bring my love of planning and organizing events, having recently served on teams organizing Nuevo Amanecer and the Black Clergy Conference. I have also come to appreciate the details, structures and canons that guide our work and enjoy digging in around them with others who share that passion. If the Church calls me know that I will give my all joyfully to honor our ancestors, delight our diverse laborers for the harvest and pass along the church of our dreams to our children. All I do, I do with a joy that for me comes from Jesus.