Through interest from many parishioners, St. James’ has formed a Racial Justice & Reconciliation Commission to do our part in the community.  This group of active volunteers meets regularly and is committed to sharing important information to St. James’ Family regarding Racial Justice.  This Commission will share resource material here and within the weekly newsletter.  Be sure to check out the “Did you know?” articles in the weekly helping to share facts and insights. And monthly, there will be a Zoom discussion group to talk at 7pm about the resource material shared for that month.  
2022 Welcome to the Season of Open & Curious!

What is Juneteenth?

Every year, communities across the nation gather to commemorate the day of emancipation from slavery in Texas—the last of all the states to abolish slavery—and that day is June 19th, 1865. 


Prior to the celebration of Juneteenth, African Americans living in Central New York celebrated what is referred to as the “Emancipation Jubilee” around January 1, the day on which the Emancipation Proclamation technically took effect. The first Emancipation Jubilee held in Syracuse was on January 20, 1863. Speakers included Rev. Samuel May and Rev. M.E. Strieby of the American Missionary Association. Between 1865 and 1877, while similar celebrations took place in Central New York, the holiday did not become an annual one.

Juneteenth became recognized as an official holiday in New York in 2020.

Auburn Juneteenth

Five to Life Acapella

 Sunday, July 17 – 10:45 and 12pm

Five to Life Acapella group will be performing at the 10:45am lakeside worship. They will also be presenting a full show  from 12pm-1pm in the park with light refreshments.

What Color is God?  Sharing Our Experiences of Sacred Art

Sunday, May 22, 4 pm, Parish Hall *IN PERSON*
From the first centuries of Christianity to today, people have been creating and displaying sacred art. We have all experienced this art in houses of worship, museums, and our own homes. In this discussion, we will talk about our personal experiences with favorite pieces of sacred art: how they make us feel, enhance our worship and prayer life, and perhaps inspire us in our faith. We will explore works that have influenced our faith—in good and perhaps troubling ways. We will talk about Janet McKenzie’s Stations of the Cross which were displayed in St. James’ sanctuary during Lent. McKenzie has said that she presents people of diverse races and ethnicities in her work because “the essence of Jesus is about inclusion, not exclusion. Every one of us is created beautifully, mysteriously and equally in God’s likeness.” Were you personally moved by these images or other inclusive art? We will view some short videos and share our thoughts about how our sacred Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—can be portrayed in ways that deepen our faith and expand our vision of God’s Kingdom.
Be sure to take time to view the moving art display of Janet Mackenzie’s Stations of the Cross in the St. James’ window wells.  Walk the stations using the guided meditation found in Joan Chittister’s book, the Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life. A special Thank you to Debra-Rose & Santo Brillati on purchasing and displaying this inspirational artwork presentation.  Books are located at the front of the church for use in walking the Stations.
Inspiring meditations on the Way of the Cross for everyone’s life journey.
When popular writer Joan Chittister heard that artist Janet McKenzie painted the fifteen stations of the cross, she was eager to write the accompanying text her first book-length treatment of the stations.
Appropriate for Lent and throughout the rest of the year, Chittister’s reflections on the stations provide a guide for all of us on how to overcome obstacles and direct our path to a life that is newly fulfilling.
Come listen to Zoe Osborne who organized and led the local march and rally protesting the death of George Floyd.  This amazing young person of color grew up here in Skaneateles and worshiped at St. James’ Church.  Hear her story and challenges as a bi-racial student in Skaneateles, New York.  Currently a senior at Drexel University, Zoe lends a very important perspective and real experiences to consider as we discuss racial justice and reconciliation.
All are welcome to listen to Zoe and ask questions on April 21 at 7pm on Zoom.
For Zoom info:  please contact the Parish Office at 315.685.7600.  
The St. James Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission presents a discussion
of “Baldwin v Buckley,” Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
The legendary debate between writer and activist James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr, author and conservative political commentator, was held on Feb. 18, 1965 at the University of Cambridge. The debate is as relevant today as it was 57 years ago when the two “American titans faced off on the subject of the country’s racial divide” (The Atlantic, Dec. 2, 2019).
The famed debate can be viewed on YouTube or on the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. A written transcript can be found on the NY Times Archives. Please either watch the video or read the transcript prior to the discussion.
Other useful resources include:
NY Times Book Review: “The Fire is Upon Us,” by Nicholas Buccola (Oct. 18, 2019)
The Atlantic: “The Famous Baldwin-Buckley Debate Still Matters Today (Dec. 2, 2019)
Links to videos and resources:
CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO of Baldwin -Buckley Debate
American Archive of Public Broadcasting Video: CLICK HERE 
NYTimes Transcript: CLICK HERE

NYTimes Book Review: The Fire is Upon Us by Nicholas Buccola (Oct. 18. 2019)-CLICK HERE


The Atlantic: “The Famous Baldwin-Buckley Debate Still Matters Today-CLICK HERE

Lakeside Performing Arts Series & Racial Justice & Reconciliation Commission Present
America the Beautiful
Sunday, February 27th
St. James’ Church Skaneateles
96 E. Genesee Street Skaneateles, New York
Cost: Suggested Donation of $10 per adult
(Masks Required for all who enter the St. James’ Church Building)
More About Singing Notes And Slinging Jokes: America the Beautiful-CLICK HERE
Join us for an exciting afternoon of music, song, storytelling, and laughter from “America’s cutest couple.” Singer/songwriter SingTrece and comedian Kenneth McLaurin, partners in life and creativity, take audiences on a journey of songs and stories about life and love, all centered around laughter. Together on stage, the pair are the classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Vocally trained in opera and gospel, SingTrece is a powerful live performer whose voice has been called ”milk and honey to the ears.” Whether singing gospel, jazz, blues, soul, or R&B, SingTrece puts her heart and soul into every note she sings. Her motto is “to change the world one positive note at a time.” Kenneth, a southern boy living in Upstate NY, serves up his southern fried outlook on parenting, marriage, divorce, popular culture, race, and life in general, keeping audiences laughing with his infectious energy and affable nature. Kenneth’s take on life, love and American Dreams is witty, thought-provoking, sometimes shocking, but always funny. “Life’s a joke, find the funny” is his life’s motto. This program is sponsored by the Lakeside Performing Arts Series and St. James’ Racial Justice & Reconciliation Commission. It is the first in a year-long series of performances around the theme of “Open and Curious: An Invitation to Learn about Racism and Social Justice.” Each performance will invite the audience to see the world from a new perspective and will include the opportunity for the audience to connect directly with the artists and each other. 
Visit: or @StJamesSkaneateles
For more information on the Lakeside Performing Arts Series-visit: CLICK HERE
On Sunday, January 23rd, St. James’ Church Welcomed Rev. Terrance A. King, Pastor, St. James A.M.E. Zion Church, Ithaca, NY. who preached at all three worship services! Click Here to View Service on Jan. 23rd.  CLICK HERE for MORE about Rev. King.
The Story of the “Spirit of the Beloved Community” quilt-On Display in St. James’ Nave Sunday, January 13th!
The “Spirit of the Beloved Community” quilt was conceived in the fall of 1991 by Syracuse University senior Ryan Bullock. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence, Bullock sought to inscribe King’s image into textile. He worked on designing the project until he graduated in spring 1992. After he graduated, Bullock’s concept was moved forward by an intrepid group of 25 people from both SU and the Syracuse community. This diverse group met weekly from September 1992 through January 1993 to turn Bullock’s vision into reality. Their goal was to complete the quilt in time for it to be hung in community centers, churches and schools during Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations in January and throughout the year.
The quilt includes blocks created by the Freedom Quilting Bee of Alberta, Alabama. The Freedom Quilting Bee was founded in 1966 as a cooperative by African-American women as a way to earn money from quilts they created out of scraps of fabric for use in their homes.
One of the group’s founders, Estelle Witherspoon, was also active in the Civil Rights Movement and participated in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. During the Civil Rights era, the Freedom Quilters created “The Coat of Many Colors’ quilt for Dr. King.
As the design for the “Spirit” quilt progressed, members of the Freedom Quilters visited the Bear’s Paw at the Canal Barn in Dewitt. They agreed to replicate blocks they made for Dr. King’s “Many Colors” quilt for the “Spirit of the Beloved Community” quilt. The colorful blocks to the left of the quilt are their gifts to the Syracuse community.
The first place “Spirit” was displayed in Syracuse after its completion was Temple Concord. Two weeks later “Spirit” traveled to Grace Episcopal Church. Since its creation, “Spirit” has been displayed at every Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at SU, which is held annually in January. “Spirit” also traveled to Alberta, Alabama.
“Spirit’s” presence at St. James Church marks the first time it has traveled off of the SU campus in many years. Its rich history is symbolic of the “Beloved Community” which Dr. King spoke about so often and which was his vision for all people in our nation and across the globe. May the presence of this quilt and its story inspire those of us gathered today in this physical space and those gathered with us in our virtual space.
Nonviolence and the Beloved Community
The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Agape (love) is a spontaneous love which seeks nothing in return. You love (others) . . . because God loves them.
And you rise to the point of loving the individual who does the evil deed while hating the deed that he does.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., “Keep Moving From This Mountain” Spelman College 1960
“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption.
The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation.”
Martin Luther King Jr., 1957, “The Birth of a New Nation” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
Sacred Ground Adult Study Begins Thursday January 13th at 10:30am!
St. James’ RJRC beckons you to join in the wonder and learning the group has experienced over the past year. Beginning in January 2022, the RJRC group will offer the Sacred Ground Studies, proffered by the national Episcopal Church,
to everyone open and interested in learning about racism and social injustice.
The 10-part series is open to all and is especially designed to help white people talk to other white people. It is built around a powerful on-line curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. There are examples of these on the national Episcopal Church web¬site under “Sacred Ground” as an introduction for you to explore.
Members of the RJRC group, who have participated in this study, use words such as “life-changing”, “revealing”, “thought-provoking” and “direction resetting”. Please feel free to speak with Linda Lavery or Pam Stewart of the RJRC about their experiences. Due to the number of sign ups, there will be only one discussion group beginning on January 13, 2022
St. James’ Sacred Ground Zoom Adult Study (10 sessions)
Thursdays (twice a month)
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
October 28 Video 1
Race–The Power of an Illusion: How the Racial Wealth Gap Was Created (30 minutes)
Illustrates how government policies and private practices helped create the segregated suburbs
and the racial wealth gap.
October 28 Video 2
The War Over Teaching America’s Racist History in Schools | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (10 minutes)

Did You Know? by Emma Cowley
The Commission is also engaging as a group in Sacred Ground.–CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Sacred Ground is a film and readings based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. Presented by the national Episcopal Church, the series invites groups to walk through America’s
history of race and racism focusing on indigenous, Black, Latino and Asian/Pacific American histories as they interact with European/American history. Its purpose is to provide a prayerful resource for respectful and transformative dialogue on race and racism. It is an attempt to be responsive to the profound challenges currently existing in our society.
Groups meet for ten sessions to discuss the films and readings assigned for that session. These assignments focus on key chapters of race and racism in US History as well as some of
the latest thinking by scholars and practitioners of racial healing, racial equity and whiteness. They invite exploration of how people of color have been harmed by racism, and how white people have been hurt in other ways, creating a shared, if deeply unequal, brokenness that compels us to overcome this legacy in deliberate partnership.. The series, framed as a spiritual journey, is grounded in Christian faith. It is intended to remove impediments that inhibit our understanding, so that we will be moved and can move others to banish racism.
The discussion group for the month of June is on the topic of “Microaggressions.” Microaggressions are the short, quick, everyday encounters that send degrading messages to minority groups. The session will begin with a presentation by Dr. Rhoda Overstreet Wilson, followed by a discussion. Dr. Wilson will explore the various kinds of racial and gender microaggressions and the lasting impact they can have.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson was born and raised in Auburn New York. She received her Doctorate in Education from St. John Fisher College in July 2020 after successfully defending her dissertation on Gender Microaggression. She is currently the Executive Director of the Westminster Manor Adult Home in Auburn. Prior to working with the elderly, she worked for over twenty years in the juvenile justice system, advocating for youth and their families in a system plagued with institutional barriers designed for Black, Brown, and disenfranchised people. Dr. Wilson serves as the Board President of the Booker. T. Washington Community Center, the Vice President of the Auburn Cayuga Branch of the NAACP, and an Auburn Enlarged City School District board member. She believes that the development of intentional partnerships is the key to change and purposefully cultivates community connections that give her a platform to be a change agent.
May 2021 Topic
A panel of presenters from the Eastern Farm Workers Association (EFWA) will speak about what they do, the realities that they see currently for farm workers and other low-income workers in Syracuse and the surrounding area, as well as the benefits program they provide to members.
EFWA is a free, voluntary, unincorporated association of low-income workers, concerned citizens, clergy, and students. The association has been present in CNY since 1974, successfully organizing farm workers to alleviate poverty. In 1997 EFWA expanded operations and relocated to Syracuse to address closures and downsizing that were impacting hundreds of local workers.
Currently there are 30,000+ members in CNY and an 11 point Benefit Program that offers dental and medical benefits, emergency food and clothing, job referral along with other services.
The May 27 discussion will provide information about the realities of local low-income workers as well as volunteer opportunities. Please contact the parish office for Zoom ID and password.
Interesting article about EFWA-CLICK HERE
April 2021 Topic
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Summary of Book:
(Small Great Things; Ballantine Books, New York, 2016. Kindle AZW file)
Ruth Jackson grew up in a poor part of the city, and her mother worked as a maid for the Hallowells, a wealthy white family in Manhattan. As a child, Ruth showed a high level of intelligence and earned a spot at an elite school. Her mother taught Ruth about the importance of appearances, and Ruth spends most of her life struggling to fit into a white-dominated world and profession.
As a child, Ruth and her sister Adisa occasionally went with their mother to the Hallowell home. They sometimes played with the daughter of the family, Christina. There, Ruth learned more about the division between the races though as an adult, she realized that at least some of those issues were of her own making. One day, the three children were present when Mrs. Mina Hallowell went into early labor and gave birth to a son with only Ruth’s mother to help her. Ruth noted that the three children witnessed the event, and each had a different reaction. Christina had her child through a surrogate mother; Rachel had five children; and, Ruth became a labor and delivery nurse.
Ruth is the only black nurse in her department when Brittany Bauer gives birth to a son she names Davis. She and her husband, Turk, are skinheads and do not bother to hide their prejudice. Ruth takes care of Davis for only a few minutes before Turk objects and the supervisor removes Ruth from the case. Ruth is understandably angry but obeys the demand. A couple of days later, a pediatrician performs a circumcision on Davis. Nurses must observe infants following the procedure, but the nurse assigned to Davis’ case is called away for an emergency C-section. Policy requires that the supervisor help with transporting the patient to the emergency room, meaning that Ruth is literally the only nurse available to watch Davis.
She steps into the nursery where the infant is sleeping to monitor him, keeping in mind that she has been told not to touch him. When Davis stops breathing, Ruth goes against those orders, trying the minor steps that sometimes start an infant breathing again. Those steps have no effect, and the supervisor arrives at that moment. She asks what Ruth is doing, and Ruth answers that she is not doing anything. The medical staff does everything possible, but the baby dies.
Turk files a complaint with the police and an investigation ensues. Ruth had worried that she would lose her job because she took action, but it then appears that she might be put in prison because she said she had done nothing. As she prepares for trial, she connects with a public defender named Kennedy McQuarrie. Kennedy is white and believes that she has no prejudices. She and Ruth have a connection that borders on friendship as Kennedy learns what everyday life is like for Ruth and Kennedy discovers that she – like most people – does have some prejudices. In Kennedy’s case, she goes overboard trying to seem unbiased.
Ignoring all her basic rules in a trial of this nature, Kennedy allows Ruth to take the stand to tell her own version of events and she then talks at length about race and prejudice. Ruth also tells the truth – that she had taken action when Davis stopped breathing, though she was told not to touch the infant. When Kennedy presents evidence that Davis died because of complications related to his mother’s gestational diabetes, the jury becomes irrevocably hung and the judge grants Kennedy’s motion to dismiss all charges.
Years pass. Ruth becomes a nurse practitioner; Brittany commits suicide. Turk realizes that his hatred has no purpose in his life. He becomes a speaker, talking against the hate that rules so many people and events. He marries, takes his wife’s last name to distance himself from his past, and has a daughter. One day, he arrives at a clinic, and Ruth takes care of his daughter. He is not certain if she recognizes him, but he is happy to see that she is thriving after the ordeal.
March 2021 Topic
February 2021 Topic
Letter from the Birmingham Jail-CLICK HERE