On the Trail of Souls – Not just for a day…for a lifetime
The Episcopal Churches of Maryland commemorated the 150th anniversary of the official abolishment of chattel slavery in Maryland on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, 2014, with the Trail of Souls: Truth and Reconciliation Pilgrimage. This day-long journey visited five Maryland sites with strong ties the both slavery and the Episcopal Church. But this was just the beginning.
An online pilgrimage of 23 churches and diocesan sites found on this website is a virtual tour and living legacy that is destined to grow in scope and participation. The Trail of Souls offers a chance to visit the Episcopal Churches of Maryland and witness them in a new light – looking at the legacy of slavery and the impact it still bears witness to today. As more churches discover and write their history they will be added to the web portal.
Why are we exploring this history?
In 2006 General Convention resolution A-123 explicitly acknowledged and regretted the Episcopal Church’s support of the inhuman system of chattel slavery and Bible abuse that was used to justify a sin that dehumanized a people created in the image of God. All dioceses were urged to research ties to the institution of chattel slavery and its impact on congregations then and now. This resolution led to the 223rd annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland apologizing “for the Anglican Church in Colonial Maryland and of the Episcopal Church in the state of Maryland for their role in the slavery of African Americans and in the subsequent racial injustice.” Learn more about our history.
“We have continued to explore ways in which we can honor the past in ways that restore the dignity of nameless souls who toiled as persons perceived as less than human. Their free labor instituted a way of life that still haunts us in the 21st century. [The Trail of Souls] pilgrimage reconciles us with a painful past, yet we are able to thank God for changes that have occurred as we work for an even brighter tomorrow,” said the Rev. Dr. Angela Shepherd, canon for mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and staff liaison to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.