Our History

1975

In 1975 and 1976 when the energies of the Church were focused on the ordination of women and revision of the Prayer Book, members of the Church and City Conference were worried by the Church’s apparent lack of attention to the urban situation. In years past the group had been active in developing a Joint Urban Program and at the 1973 General Convention had lobbied successfully for the establishment of a Joint Commission on Metropolitan Affairs but little was happening. Church and City leadership began working on an action agenda, which the membership heartily endorsed. It called for the establishment of urban training centers, a program of regional conferences and the rebuilding of an active urban-oriented network.

1976

In the summer of 1976, the Rev. Franklin Turner, national Officer for Black Ministries, saw first hand the plight of urban parishes and the turmoil growing around them. Feeling that urban issues should be brought before the Church, he turned to Bishop Paul Moore of New York and Bishop John Walker of Washington, D.C. for help. Based on their conversations a meeting of “urban bishops” was convened at the Minneapolis General Convention. At that meeting, the bishops hoped to find a way to call the Church’s attention to urban issues, which seemed to be passing unnoticed. Discovering Venture in Mission to be a vehicle ready made for expressing their concerns, the bishops called upon VIM to allocate at least 50% of the money it raised to urban programs. The goal gained wide acceptance as the Venture in Mission effort took on national prominence. Determined to avoid the Church’s past errors in addressing urban issues, the bishops left Minneapolis committed to forming a coalition and educating themselves on the matters that faced them. Bishop Walker became the Coalition’s first chairman and Bishop John Burt of Ohio, its treasurer.

After several meetings, the original group of bishops sponsored a series of national public hearings and presented three institutes for Church leaders on social and economic concerns. The North-South Institutes, in cooperation with the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, sponsored an event that attracted nearly 200 registrants and, along with other hearings across the country, offered opportunities for a variety of individuals and groups to present concerns to Church leaders and provide authentic information for further study and action. At the same time, the Church and City Conference, under the leadership of Chairman Michael Kendall of New York, was at work on its action agenda and Kendall presented the agenda during his testimony at a public hearing in Washington, D.C. Testifying at the same hearing was Gibson Winter who spoke in medical terms, of the cities being not so much in crisis as they were victims of wasting degenerative disease. He warned listeners not to approach urban mission as another short-term program, but as a long-term commitment. He said renewal of urban congregations and the solution to urban problems called for sophisticated involvement over a long period of time. In Chicago, Newark, Seattle, Birmingham and Colon (Panama) some 155 other participants offered testimony to panels of Church and community leaders regarding the role of the Church in the urban problems facing them. Their pleas called for the Church to be with them in their struggle rather than to give them money.

1978

Information from the hearings was compiled by the Rev. Joseph Pelham and reported to a special meeting of the Urban Bishops Coalition in the spring of 1978, with the following basic issues identified:

-Energy/inflation/ecology

-Jobs

-Housing

-Education

-Income security

The report also suggested the need for a national organization, for partners, and for a coalition to strengthen the role of the local urban parish. Pelham wrote: “Careful reflection on the testimony… indicates that to a degree that may not have previously been acknowledged, many of the resources needed to address the crisis already exist. What needs to occur, however, is a tough-minded, careful, honest analysis which can lead to a redeployment of (Church) programs, properties, personnel, energies, and resources to (do) the right task.” The bishops and invited participants accepted the report’s findings and voted to move ahead. Their recommendations for action are included in a publication called, To Hear and To Heed.

Final plans for a coalition came into being during the winter of 1978 and the spring of 1979 in discussions between the Urban Bishops Coalition and the Church and City Conference. The Episcopal Urban Caucus was founded and originally funded by both groups under the guidance of a joint steering committee. The organizing Assembly of the EUC commenced February 13-19, 1980 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its charge was for bishops, clergy and laity to express the Church’s concern for the plight of the cities and their residents and for a commitment from concerned Episcopalians dedicated to leading a revitalization of the planners’ goal for the Caucus – “Vitalization of Episcopal churches in the cities through involvement, reflection, advocacy and action on issues of justice, equality and peace in our cities, nation and the world.”

Task forces of the EUC produced significant contributions to the understanding of important issues. The Caucus’, Countdown to Disaster, written by the Rev. William Rankin, reflected thinking on disarmament. To Build the City: Too Long a Dream, edited by Bill Yon, highlighted the work of the Parish Revitalization task force. The EUC adopted the Rule of Life based on the baptismal covenant, and produced a book of reflections on the spirituality of urban ministry in, For the Living of These Days, edited by the Rev. Emmett Jarrett.

2000

Information from the hearings was compiled by the Rev. Joseph Pelham and reported to a special meeting of the Urban Bishops Coalition in the spring of 1978, with the following basic issues identified:

-Energy/inflation/ecology

-Jobs

-Housing

-Education

-Income security

The report also suggested the need for a national organization, for partners, and for a coalition to strengthen the role of the local urban parish. Pelham wrote: “Careful reflection on the testimony… indicates that to a degree that may not have previously been acknowledged, many of the resources needed to address the crisis already exist. What needs to occur, however, is a tough-minded, careful, honest analysis which can lead to a redeployment of (Church) programs, properties, personnel, energies, and resources to (do) the right task.” The bishops and invited participants accepted the report’s findings and voted to move ahead. Their recommendations for action are included in a publication called, To Hear and To Heed.

Final plans for a coalition came into being during the winter of 1978 and the spring of 1979 in discussions between the Urban Bishops Coalition and the Church and City Conference. The Episcopal Urban Caucus was founded and originally funded by both groups under the guidance of a joint steering committee. The organizing Assembly of the EUC commenced February 13-19, 1980 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its charge was for bishops, clergy and laity to express the Church’s concern for the plight of the cities and their residents and for a commitment from concerned Episcopalians dedicated to leading a revitalization of the planners’ goal for the Caucus – “Vitalization of Episcopal churches in the cities through involvement, reflection, advocacy and action on issues of justice, equality and peace in our cities, nation and the world.”

Task forces of the EUC produced significant contributions to the understanding of important issues. The Caucus’, Countdown to Disaster, written by the Rev. William Rankin, reflected thinking on disarmament. To Build the City: Too Long a Dream, edited by Bill Yon, highlighted the work of the Parish Revitalization task force. The EUC adopted the Rule of Life based on the baptismal covenant, and produced a book of reflections on the spirituality of urban ministry in, For the Living of These Days, edited by the Rev. Emmett Jarrett.