Confronting Racism—Working for Change

with 8 Comments

In the wake of George Floyd's murder in 2020 and the subsequent racial awakening in America, and as part of Saint Mark's continual work towards racial justice for all, Saint Mark's and the Diocese of Olympia have recommitted to rooting out racism within ourselves and the church at large. This page serves to share the work of Saint Mark's to address racism within the cathedral and within ourselves, as well as the cathedral's work towards change and justice for every human being, especially BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized communities.


Read Dean Thomason's 2020 statement on racism and violence here.

Recent and Ongoing Actions


The Community of Saint Mark's is encouraged to register for Dismantling Racism Training from the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing. Learn more here.

Projecting Justice at Saint Mark's: From May 25 - June 8, the Saint Mark’s cathedral building became a public monument as names of citizens killed by police were projected onto the façade of the cathedral, in letters over three feet high. In this extraordinarily public way, Saint Mark's used its most visible asset—the cathedral building itself—to “say their names” in order to spark discussions and move towards meaningful change in our own community and region. Learn more here.


Saint Mark's Statement of Lament and Commitment to Action was unanimously approved by the Vestry in May of 2021. It builds upon the Anti-Racism Covenant crafted by the Diocese of Missouri and adopted by the Diocese in 2020. Read the statement here and learn more about how and why it came about here.

On April 27, 2021, the Vestry of Saint Mark's adopted three Mutual Ministry Goals: Creation Care and Carbon Reduction; Restorative Justice and Systemic Change; and Innovative and Intergenerational Community.

Mutual Ministry Goal: Restorative Justice and Systematic Change

Drawing on our scriptural enjoinder to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, we will renew our commitment to seek and serve Christ in all persons, working toward restorative justice and the dignity of every human being while lamenting and working to change those systemic evils—in the church and the world—that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.

Read the full Mutual Ministry Goals here, adopted April 27, 2021.

After a three-year process, the office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has released the Racial Justice Audit of Episcopal Leadership to the public. Learn more, including upcoming webinars discussing the findings of the audit, here.

In December of 2020, Saint Mark’s announced that The Rev. Canon Walter Brownridge would serve as Theologian-in-Residence for 2021, during which he will preach periodically, teach, consult with ministry leaders, staff and vestry, with a special focus on the cathedral’s efforts to address systemic racism.

Read more about The Rev. Canon Brownridge here.

Saint Mark's Cathedral acknowledges that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Duwamish Tribe.

What is this?


UPDATE 3/18/21: In response to the massacre in Georgia, threats against churches in Seattle, and the legitimate fear of violence that members of our community are experiencing, Dean Thomason sent a message to the community, which may be read here.

UPDATE 12/21: Saint Mark's is delighted to announce that The Rev. Canon Walter B.A. Brownridge will serve a Saint Mark's Cathedral's Theologian-in-Residence during 2021, to preach, teach, and consult, with a special focus on confronting systemic racism. Learn more here.

UPDATE 12/20 At this year's Diocesan Convention, the Diocese of Olympia voted overwhelmingly to sign on to A Covenant to Root Out Racism, put forth initially by the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson, Episcopal Bishop of Missouri. Read Bishop Rickel's statement and see the complete text here.

UPDATE 8/25: Click here to see an additional list of resources compiled during the now-concluded racial justice series at Saint Mark's.

UPDATE 8/2: Click here to read an update from The Rev. Canon Arienne Davison, Canon to Ordinary, with more detailed plans for a commitment to anti-racist work in the Diocese of Olympia over the next several years.

UPDATE 7/13: Click here to learn about the plans and priorities for the work of anti-racism from the Diocese of Olympia.

UPDATE 6/14: Click here to learn about the series of online presentations and discussion titled Taking Up Our Responsibility for Racial Justice. Although this series is now concluded, you may view video and materials from the class.

Video Events and Presentations

On May 22, 2019, The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, author of Radical Welcome and the Presiding Bishop's Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Stewardship, visited the Diocese of Olympia and gave a presentation at Saint Mark's Cathedral titled "Becoming Beloved Community."
Saint Mark’s Theologian-in-Residence, The Rev. Canon Walter Brownridge, gives an introduction to acclaimed African-American religious leader and theologian Howard Thurman’s legacy. Canon Brownridge’s presentation led off an invitation to read for Lent Thurman’s foundational work Jesus and the Disinherited, exploring the Gospel as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised. This introductory presentation was offered Sunday, January 28, 2021. Learn more here.
Gospel Work: An Introduction to Anti-Racism work in the diocese of Olympia.
The Seattle Clergy Moment of Lament & Prayer for Racial Justice was livestreamed Friday, June 5, 2020, at 12 noon.

­­Anti-Racism Learning Resources

What can I do? There are articles galore, lists galore, books galore – no dearth of resources and actions online and in publications. It’s not about you doing everything; it’s about all of us doing something.

You are encouraged to be willing to be uncomfortable, to read challenging works from sources you may not ordinarily seek out, and to be intentional in doing both the inner work and the active work in the world that we are called to as Christians: to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but provides examples of ways to get more involved in addressing racism and working for change.

Where to start?

  • Educate yourself.
  • Do your inner work.
  • Listen – and speak up.
  • Participate in and financially support organizations run by people of color.
  • Show up and volunteer. 


Do the ongoing work

  • Call legislators and police departments, and write letters and emails. They do get counted!
  • Work for voting rights and voter registration in communities of color.
  • Speak up when you hear racist talk.
  • Listen when people of color speak, even if their message makes you uncomfortable.
  • Remember S.A.S. – STOP. ASK. STAY.  When you see a person of color being questioned or hassled: StopAsk "Are you okay?" — Stay and be a witness.
  • Show up in solidarity – not violence.
  • Do the inner work to face the cultural and inherited racism in yourself: read, listen, participate in workshops and programs on dismantling racism.
  • Follow the lead of people of color; join an organization run by people of color.
  • Support black-owned businesses. Here is one list:
  • Here is another list of black-owned businesses:
  • Pepperdine University provides this resource to help understand the roots and consequences of prejudice:



  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • I’m still here by Austin Channing Brown
  • Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
  • How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland by Jonathan Metzl
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  • A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ron Takaki
  • The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America by Anders Walker
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn




Local Organizations


National Organizations


Other lists of resources

Black Lives Matter: A Guide to Resistance Events, Black-Owned Restaurants, and Other Ways to Stand Against Racism in Seattle
The Stranger has published this excellent list of resources, references, and recommendations.

The Bureau of Fearless Ideas [pdf]
The Seattle branch of the Dave Eggers-founded writing nonprofit suggests accounts to follow, books by black authors, donation sites, direct action literature, and podcasts about race.

Seattle Rep’s Racial Justice Resources
Seattle Repertory Theatre has compiled links to local and national donation sites, memorial funds, petitions, and education material, plus numbers to call to demand justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade.

Responding to Racist Violence

Resources from The Episcopal Church, including Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's recent Pentecost sermon, scriptures and liturgies for prayer and healing, and ways to participate in justice initiatives.

Anti-Racism Resources [google doc]
This list compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein includes tons of articles, videos, podcasts, books, films and TV, and other links “intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work.”

Additional Resources for Taking Up Our Responsibility for Racial Justice [pdf] During Saint Mark’s summer 2020 series of readings, videos, podcasts, and discussions, many resources were offered by participants in addition to the syllabus, examining racism and white privilege and how we as individuals, and as community, are both complicit and can learn more and be forces for change. Find this extended list here.


Resources for children and teens

Summer Reading List [pdf]

A collective network of Episcopal formation leaders has put together a wonderful anti-racist reading list for students (bracketed by age) and parents. We love God by loving one another, and it's never too soon to talk to our children about the differences they see, and to practice love by dismantling racism. Let us know if you read them, and send us a quick review to share with other families

Talking Race With Young Children [podcast episode with links to additional resources]

Even babies notice differences like skin color, eye shape and hair texture. Here's how to handle conversations about race, racism, diversity and inclusion, even with very young children.

Raising Race-conscious children

A list of 100(!) race-conscious things you can say to your child to advance racial justice.

Nikole Hannah-Jones' work on school choice and segregation

Scroll through the list of Hannah-Jones' publications and interviews to read her provocative work on inequalities in education



Explore the many offerings for high school and junior-high students from this interfaith organization with longstanding ties to Saint Mark's.


What does Love Do? [pdf]

A printable document for families from The Episcopal Church. Put it on your fridge, and be reminded throughout the day that love is the way!

8 Responses

  1. Linda Leisy
    | Reply

    Great list! Other books to suggest: Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta Nehisi Coates, The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

    Thank you

  2. Libby Kelleher Carr
    | Reply

    In addition to the “Just Mercy” book, that Linda Leisy refers to above, there is also a film made from this book, also called “Just Mercy.” It is very well done and the point is made with the overwhelming statistics of the number of innocent (mostly black & brown) who are locked up because of justice denied.
    Thanks for doing this study and action opportunities.

    | Reply


    • saintmarks

      Mr. Johnstone, I have emailed the information you requested. Thank you for your interest and participation!

  4. Shaylee Packer
    | Reply

    As you mentioned, it is important to educate yourself, and then contribute to the work that is being done to promote equality. My neighbor has been trying to figure out what way is the best for him to help with the situation that is going on currently. I will have to share these tips with him, and see if it gives him a jumping off point.

    • Saint Mark's Cathedral

      Thank you, Shaylee!

  5. Fred Jessett
    | Reply

    Here are three more books that I found very helpful. Written by self-described Christians, the authors show the symbiotic relationship between white supremacy and white Christian churches in the U.S.
    “The End of White Christian America” (2016) and “White Too Long” (2020) both by Robert P. Jones, founder and CEO of the Public Religious Research Institute (PRRI). He has the facts and figures to make his case.
    “The Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning” by Richard T. Hughes. Second Edition, Forward by Robert H. Bellah, New Forward by Molefi Kete Asante. The first myth, that we are a Chosen Nation, came from the English Reformation in the form of the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England. All the myths are grounded in white supremacy.

    • Saint Mark's Cathedral

      Thank you, Fred!

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