Structural Racism & Our Use of Sacred Music

As we face continued uncertainty with COVID variant surges and the suffering of our world in war and climate chaos, the work of the church goes on.

I am particularly grateful for the work of a small team of people who began a conversation last year about how structural racism relates to our use of sacred music. Out of a bigger conversation that included many people at St. Michael’s who were reading, listening, discussing, praying and wrestling with how we can be antiracist, there was curiosity among a group of peers who shared a concern about what it means to sing and play music of cultures we have dominated and hurt. While a statement was crafted and approved by Vestry for provisional use, it was clear that this is just a beginning of a process of repentance and repair. The statement and its use is shown here and will be seen in our bulletin beginning September 12, 2021. I encourage you to read it, pray it, discern it as our own collective step in this process we are taking as a congregation.

*Provisional* Music Appropriation Statement:

St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church acknowledges the gifts of sacred music written by African Americans, indigenous peoples and all people of color. This music enriches our liturgies and we are grateful for these musicians. Music of oppressed cultures has been appropriated by the dominant culture without an appreciation of the pain and suffering experienced by its creators. We repent and commit to the work of racial justice and ending racism.

The Committee further proposes the statement be printed in every service bulletin preferably on the same page as the land acknowledgement statement. Further, the statement be supplemented regularly with educational information in “Today’s Music” in the weekly email blast or in the service bulletin if there is an appropriate place for it there. For services without a printed service bulletin, the Land Acknowledgement and Music Appropriation statements could be read aloud.