Empowering the Laity

At its June 1967 meeting, the Board of Directors committed its, “primary attention to combating white racism.” Despite its attempt to create a new cultural norm for the Church, ESCRU was itself criticized for being dominated by white liberal activists. In 1968 a group of African-American Episcopalians organized the Union of Black Clergy and Laity, later known as the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE). The UBE would begin by speaking forcefully and innovatively on issues relating to racism in the Church. It originated, however, from a two-page paid advertisement placed in a 1967 issue of The Episcopalian protesting the discrimination in hiring, placement, and deployment of black Episcopal clergy. The advertisement was originally prepared for the 1967 General Convention and placed by a group of 145 black priests. The rise of this new organization that spoke from within the African American community, coupled with ESCRU’s redirection in focus, led to a drastic drop in ESCRU’s membership by the late 1960s and its almost sudden demise in 1970. [Sources]