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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.

Recent and Ongoing Actions

Womanist Midrash & Biblical Interpretation with The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2, 9 A.M.–12 P.M., in person in Bloedel Hall and online via Zoom. Registration required for either option.

Womanist Biblical scholar and renowned author of A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church, The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. will lead a seminar on Womanist Midrash, exploring the complexity of scripture and importance of translation as she interprets the Hebrew Biblical tradition of women prophets and leaders. Fee: $65 (for both online and in-person participants). Partial scholarships available. Includes a light lunch and snacks for those participating in person. Register by submitting the form here.

This workshop is made possible through generous gifts in loving memory of Matthew Briggs.

Note: Dr. Gafney will also offer a guest sermon on Sunday, December 3, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

GROUP MEETS TUESDAYS, 6:30–8:30 P.M.., BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 12, 2023, AND ENDING JUNE 4, 2024, in Leffler House or online via Zoom. Capacity is limited; registration is required.

UPDATE: This first iteration of Sacred Ground at Saint Mark's is now at capacity, but stay tuned for additional offerings in 2024. 

Everyone in the Saint Mark's Cathedral community is invited to consider participating in Sacred Ground, an intense, small-group learning cohort which will meet over thirteen sessions, September 12 through June 4 at 6:30–8:30 p.m. on the second floor of Leffler House (hybrid option available). Capacity is limited, so if you feel called to be part of a Sacred Ground circle, please register as early as possible using the form here or below. The series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. Check out much more introductory material here.

Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. This series is open to all, and especially designed to help white people talk with other white people.  Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day.

SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2023, 9 A.M.–2:30 P.M., in person in Bloedel Hall and online via Zoom; registration required. 

Mothered by God: Divine Feminine and the Black Madonna is an all-day workshop with Dr. Christena Cleveland. The Divine is not limited to one gender or race, but for many people the dominant image of God they’ve experienced is that of a white male. Such a poverty of metaphor limits not only our understanding of the Holy One who overflows all human categories but also reinforces white supremacy and patriarchy. Join Dr. Christena Cleveland as she explores the Divine Feminine, especially in the context of her 400-mile walking pilgrimage across central France in search of ancient Black Madonna statues.

Cost: $65 (for both online and in-person participants). Scholarships available. Includes a light lunch and snacks for those participating in person. Registration required.

Book Study with The Rev. Canon Carla Robinson

In preparation for Dr. Cleveland’s workshop, The Rev. Canon Carla Robinson will offer a two-part Cathedral Commons series about Cleveland’s book God is a Black Woman  on Wednesday, May 10 and Wednesday, May 24. Free event, offered in person and online via Zoom. All are welcome. Learn more here.

Saint Mark’s is excited to present Cathedral Conversations About Race, a new podcast series from Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle. In this series, hosts Cara Peterson and Michael Perera speak with the BIPOC members of the cathedral about their respective faith journeys, and their experiences of being a BIPOC person in our community. Periodically, Cara and Michael will interview the clergy of the cathedral, to get their reactions on the stories they've heard, and what this means for the cathedral's work of anti-racism. Learn more here.

Projecting Justice at Saint Mark's: From May 25–June 8, 2021, 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.

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.

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.

Read Dean Thomason's May 2020 message to the community regarding racism and violence, here: Racial Violence and God’s Call to a “New Normal.”

­­Anti-Racism Learning Resources

The list of anti-racism resources, references, and recommendations compiled by the cathedral community in the summer of 2020 can now be found here.

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. Trainings are available by Zoom. Participants outside of the Diocese of Atlanta are asked to pay a $50 fee. Note that training times are EST.

Diocesan Updates

Saint Mark's Cathedral celebrates the appointment of The Rev. Canon Carla Robinson as Canon for Multicultural Ministries & Community Transformation by the Diocese of Olympia. Canon Robinson has longstanding ties to this community; she was raised up for ordination in the Episcopal Church by Saint Mark's, and was ordained in this space in 2009.

At the 2020 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 from 12/20/2020 here.

Click here to read the plans and priorities for anti-racism work from the Diocese of Olympia, as of July 2020. Click here to read an August 2020 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.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2023, 6:45–8:15 P.M., in person in Bloedel Hall or online via Zoom; registration required. Optional community dinner at 6 p.m. ($6/child; $8/adult; $25/max. family).

In 2021, the Episcopal Church released its Racial Justice Audit documenting the experience of race, racism, and racial identity within church leadership. At the Diocese of Olympia's Diocesan Convention last fall, a task force presented its findings and proposed ways we in this diocese might engage this important work. This forum is designed as part of that work. All cathedral members are encouraged to register to attend, and members from other churches are most welcome also. This is an opportunity to listen, learn and engage in conversation with others as we seek to understand and work towards racial justice in our communities, guided by five questions developed by the Task Force. Contact Canon Carla Robinson for more information.

Racial Audit of the Episcopal Church:

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."
Gospel Work: An Introduction to Anti-Racism work in the diocese of Olympia.
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. The opening plenery, above, was streamed July 1, 2020.
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.
The Seattle Clergy Moment of Lament & Prayer for Racial Justice was livestreamed Friday, June 5, 2020, at 12 noon.

Racial Justice Updates and Events

The Doctrine of Discovery: The Episcopal Church, Indigenous Peoples, and the Necessity of Decolonizing Christianity
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UPDATE: Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide a recording of this presentation.   WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 7–8:30 P.M., via Zoom A Presentation and Discussion with The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton Saint Mark’s welcomes The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, who is Shackan First Nation, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett, and Coordinator of Ethnic Ministries Circles of Color. The Doctrine of Discovery historically informed the legal premise for justifying the forces of colonialism, including the enslavement of African and Asian peoples … Read More

Church Leaders Respond to Political Violence
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The shocking (if unsurprising) events of January 6 have occasioned countless responses from faith leaders in The Episcopal Church and beyond. A selection of those responses, including the messages from Dean Thomason and Bishop Rickel, are collected here for convenience.   Dean Thomson’s message to the community: A Crisis of Democracy. (January 6, 2021) Canon Nancy Ross’s Epiphany Sermon. (January 6, 2021) Bishop of Washington (D.C.) Mariann Edgar Budde and Dean of the Nation Cathedral Randy Hollerith Statement on Election … Read More

Announcing the Cathedral’s Theologian-in-Residence for 2021
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UPDATE: Rev. Brownridge’s first sermon for Saint Mark’s will be offered during the 11 a.m. liturgy on Sunday, January 17 A MESSAGE FROM DEAN THOMASON Dear friends, It is my delight to share the news that The Rev. Canon Walter B.A. Brownridge will serve as Saint Mark’s Theologian-in-Residence during 2021. In this role, which is grant-funded and was delayed several months due to the pandemic, Canon Brownridge will bring his manifold gifts and considerable experience as he engages the cathedral … Read More

Post-Election Book Discussion: Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times
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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 7–8:00 P.M. Post-Election Book Discussion: Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s New Book! Let’s gather after the election and talk about hope for the future in a real, Jesus-centered way! As the descendant of slaves and the son of a civil rights activist, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s life illustrates massive changes in our times. In his new book, he uses the prism of his faith, ancestry, and … Read More

Watch Party and Discussion of Documentary “13th”
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MONDAY, OCTOBER 19 5:30 P.M. • MOVIE WATCH PARTY OVER ZOOM; 7:15 – 8:15 P.M. POST-FILM DISCUSSION OVER ZOOM THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED! A USEFUL DISCUSSION/REFLECTION GUIDE MAY BE SEEN HERE.  Gather together online to watch and then discuss the profound documentary “13th,” filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s exploration of the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the mass incarceration of African Americans. Scholars, activists, and politicians analyze the history of criminalization of African Americans and … Read More

United for Good: An Interfaith Election Contemplative Prayer Vigil Co-Sponsored by Saint Mark’s
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Click on the flyer image below to enlarge. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2020,  6:30 P.M., watch live here or on the Saint Mark’s livestream page This event is co-sponsored by Saint Mark’s, St. James Catholic Cathedral, Temple de Hirsch Sinai, First African Methodist Episcopal, and the Church Council of Greater Seattle Please join with Dean Thomason, virtually, as Saint Mark’s cosponsors this event with Temple DeHirsch Sinai, First AME Church, St. James Cathedral, and Church Council of Greater Seattle. Amidst the … Read More

Voting, Politics, and the Church: A Message from Dean Thomason
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Thursday, October 15, 2020 Dear friends, This Friday, October 16th, marks the opening day in this state for early voting in the November 3rd general election. As I consider my own ballot, I find myself prayerfully mindful of the right and privilege I have as a voting citizen in this nation. Not everyone is afforded the right, restrained either by law or by impediments of disenfranchisement or disinterest. I am especially mindful of our nation in these turbulent days and … Read More

Come Hell or High Water: Climate Justice Webinar
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FILM: WATCH ANY TIME BETWEEN MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3–5 WEBINAR: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 5 P.M., via Zoom Please note that some information listed in this week’s Sundays & Beyond about this event was in error. A generous member of the Creation Care Ministry has made it possible for people from Saint Mark’s to watch the film for free. Visit https://interfaithpowerandlight.salsalabs.org/comehellorhighwaterfilm to register and indicate “Saint Mark’s Cathedral” under “congregation.” Also, note that the free webinar begins at 5 p.m. … Read More

Taking Up Our Responsibility for Racial Justice
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Photo by Tim Pierce via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 THIS SERIES MET IN JULY AND AUGUST, 2020 Although this offering is now concluded, you are invited to view the video of the plenary presentation, and explore course materials below.  At this critical moment in our nation’s and community’s history, we are confronted again with fresh knowledge of longstanding racial injustice – in policing, the justice system, health care, housing, education, the Church, and many other sectors of our common life. … Read More

Taking White Supremacy to Court: The Charlottesville Case
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TUESDAY, JULY 28, 5 P.M., presented by Temple de Hirsch-Sinai, co-sponsored by Saint Mark’s Cathedral and Faith Action Network Integrity First for America (IFA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to holding those accountable who threaten longstanding principles of our democracy—including our country’s commitment to civil rights and equal justice. The IFA is backing Sines v. Kessler, the landmark federal lawsuit filed by a coalition of Charlottesville community members against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the August 2017 violence. … Read More

Seattle Multifaith Clergy Lament & Prayer for Racial Justice
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FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 12 NOON This Friday, June 5, at noon, a group of Seattle clergy from many faith traditions will gather on the terrace and steps of St. James Cathedral to pray and observe eight minutes, 46 seconds of silence while the Cathedral’s funeral bell tolls. Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown, Lead Pastor, Plymouth Church, will speak and invite all to the time of silence. Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral will be represented at the event by Dean Steve Thomason. Learn … Read More

Confronting Racism—Working for Change
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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 … Read More

Dean Thomason: Racial Violence and God’s Call to a “New Normal”
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Confronting Racism—Working for Change: (A list of antiracist resources, references, and recommendations compiled by cathedral staff) Statement from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael Curry Statement from the Bishop of Olympia, The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel Statement from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry on President Donald Trump’s use of a church building and the Holy Bible Dean Thomason’s message about the Seattle clergy prayer service and march planned for Friday, June 5 Read Dean Steve … Read More

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