Home > About the Exhibit

About the Exhibit

Background to Exhibit Creation


Reverend John Morris, Executive Director of ESCRU from 1960-1967

The Church Awakens is an electronic publication and online exhibit of The Archives of the Episcopal Church first created in 2008 and updated periodically. The exhibit arose from an institutional call to examine the impact of racism on the Church, and received impetus from the gift of a generous donor, and the Archives Board's commitment to uncovering the historical legacy of the Church’s African-American faithful. The Board and staff identified the Afro-Anglican experience as deserving special attention as a way of responding to the General Convention’s wide-ranging call in 1991-D113 and 1991-D149 for all Church bodies to address the institutional sin of racism and to develop a multi-cultural historiography for a common heritage. In multiple reminders, (e.g., 2006-A123, 2009-A143, and 2015-C019) General Convention has established the need for historical examination of the practice of racism and the impact of enslavement on the distribution of privilege and injustice in our society.

In 2016, the exhibit received a major update in content and software platform to maintain our commitment to historical memory as the source of racial reconciliation and healing.

Responding to the Convention’s call, the Archives acquired several important documentary holdings in the 1990s, notably among them the records of the Episcopal Society for Racial and Cultural Unity (ESCRU). A series of discussions ensued with one of ESCRU’s founding members and executive directors, the Reverend John Morris. Morris’ dedication to the Church as an unfolding historical project led directly to the creation of this exhibit. In many ways this exhibit is a tribute to Morris’ desire that one of the central lessons of this period not be lost today – that the unified Christian community has within its grasp the capacity for extraordinary acts of justice and honor that can serve to renew the community and bring positive change to the larger society. In 1998, John Morris donated funds that made this exhibit possible and in many ways it is dedicated to his life-long dedication to racial equality and accountability.


The altar cross image was used by the 1964 General Convention to honor the Church's diversity and people of color.


This exhibit draws on the rich historical collections of the Afro-Anglican Archives of the General Convention. The Archives continues to add to this unfolding story and has constructed the on-line publication to be a growing resource on the Episcopal Church’s African American narrative, knowing that technology can make history a more vivid experience for a wider audience. Viewers who wish to share their comments on the exhibit or experiences are invited to do so by using the comment form. Donors who would like to add documentary evidence to the exhibit or to the Afro-Anglican Archives of The Episcopal Church are encouraged to contact the Director of Archives, Mark J. Duffy (mduffy [at] episcopalarchives.org)

The exhibit, “The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Struggle for Justice” is the creation of several present and former staff members of The Archives of the Episcopal Church.

Technical Information

Originally published in 2008, the exhibit was migrated to the Omeka Classic open-source content management platform in 2017. All photo images are included as JPEG files at 72 dpi screen resolution. Where possible, documents and images that include text are presented at 300 dpi and are offered in PDF format to allow viewers the ability to examine these items more closely. Audio and video files are edited excerpts of larger works that were digitized, edited and exported as mp3 and mp4 files that may be played within the site using embedded media players. Accessing the exhibit using a modern browser with JavaScript enabled is recommended for the best viewing experience.

Copyright and Terms of Use

Copyright 2017. The Archives of the Episcopal Church. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Unless otherwise noted, text and images displayed in this exhibit are owned by The Archives of the Episcopal Church. Permission is granted to individuals and not-for-profit entities to use or link to this electronic publication for educational purposes only. The copyright holder reserves all other rights to the use and reproduction in all formats and media of text, images, audio, and video data. For permission to reproduce contact Rights and Permissions, The Archives of the Episcopal Church: exhibit@episcopalarchives.org.