This is a republication of “Meet The Community” from 2014 in celebration of Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family. This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as an acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America.
Black History Month (BHM) takes place in February each year and it is an opportunity for all people to celebrate those who have championed civil rights, to remember some very disturbing facts about the past and to acknowledge the social justice work that still needs to be done.
In this article several parishioners from St. Philip's church explain what this month means to them.
Joy has been a member of St. Philip's for 17 years. She explained that for her BHM celebrates people that have worked for equal rights in schools and in the wider society.
Paul has been coming to St. Philip's for a quarter century. He was born in Uganda and for him BHM is a celebration of where you come, it "honours those who have fought for your liberation and your freedom."
Sam is another long time parishioner at St. Philip's he succinctly explained that BHM, "means a lot."
Andy has been coming to St. Philip's for decades, he reviewed his experience as the only mixed race person in school and later in his job. He stated that there should be no such thing as BHM and it should be something we remember and celebrate all the time.
He recounted that when Black people came to Canada, many were not welcome in predominantly White churches. He explained that one of the first churches to openly welcome Black people was the Union United Church.
Una came to Canada from Barbados in the 1970's she recounted her personal story about being Black both in Barbados and in Montreal.
Some of Una's ancestors were slaves. She explained that while slavery has been abolished there are still remnants of racism that persist to this day. "We have to remember the past," she said. Growing up, "white people never looked at us," it was as though we were invisible. However, she noted that in some department stores she felt very visible. White sales clerks would follow her around as if to ensure that she did not steal anything.
For Una BHM is an opportunity for Black people to express themselves. She stated that she is glad to see that we have come a long way, but, she concluded, we still have further to go.
The Oldest Black Church in Montreal
The First Black Bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada
Chronological History of African American Contributions to the Episcopal Church (1624 - 1970)
A Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada