Getting to Revisit our History

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Gail Bindley-Taylor writes:

Have you ever wondered whether our Church was involved in the trans-Atlantic trade in persons also known as slavery? Did members or priests in the Episcopal Church own enslaved people? How long did this last? These are just a few of the questions that a small group of parishioners have undertaken to find answers to in keeping with the work that Episcopal Church in Connecticut has called all its Churches to undertake as part of its commitment evidenced in a resolution passed at the Diocesan Convention in 2020. This resolution requests the Church to “direct each Parish, Worshipping Community and intentional Episcopal Community to take steps to discover and document historic complicity in racism in their parish and communities.” You may well ask, “and what are we going to do with this information?” Well, lots of things. First, discover some of the untold stories of the history in our Parish like that of a formerly enslaved freed man named Alvin Metrash. Alvin was a sexton of St. Paul’s and is buried in our church yard.  The people of St. Paul’s of that time were very protective of Alvin when a slave trader came to claim him in 1815. We know there may be others and we would like to know those stories so we can honour their memory. Some of our records are missing because of the fire that burnt Norwalk in 1779 when British troops set fire to the town. So, we will turn to census records and newspaper articles and any institutional memory that still exists. By knowing who we are as a people, we can learn from the past and have that inform the work we do in the future to address racial reconciliation and healing. We have just had our second meeting and are very excited by the amount of research we must do and the many directions this is taking us in, including an opportunity to possibly partner with St. Matthews Church in Wilton with whom we share a common past. We are looking forward to unearthing some interesting stories of our past. If you like research, history or story telling or you are just curious enough about what we are doing and want to be a part of this, please contact the parish office by email – or by calling (203) 847-2806.

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