The Rev. Winnie Varghese of Trinity Church Wall Street joined with the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Seminary, and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation, and Stewardship of Creation, to write “Speaking of Freedom: A Fourth of July Letter to the Church.” The writers, all Episcopal priests and women of color, read their letter on YouTube and in a Facebook Live segment, urging their church to “free ourselves institutionally and individually of that which stands between us and the dream of God: Whiteness itself.”
The letter was released on Sunday, July 5 to mark the 168th anniversary of the speech by Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, writer, orator, and statesman, at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, NY, a speech made to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. Excerpts of Douglass’ speech were recorded this month at Frederick Douglass Circle at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 110th Street in New York City. Among those recording the excerpts was the Rev. Phillip Jackson, Priest-in-charge and Vicar of Trinity Church Wall Street.