The following profiles highlight just a few of our growing network of anti-racist Episcopalians around the Diocese of North Carolina. Sign-up today to receive our newsletter and get connected!
DeDreana Freeman is a member of St. Philip’s in Durham and the Bishop’s Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation. As an active leader in multiple community-based organizations, including Organizing Against Racism-Durham, DeDreana is a firm believer that working in the community she lives in is an important way to effect change in a way that benefits all of Durham.
Monnie Riggin is a member of St. Luke’s, Durham, and a Postulant in the Diocese of North Carolina’s Diaconate program, with hopes of being ordained in January of 2018. She is founding member of EUAR, serves on the Bishop’s Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation and the Diocesan Prison Ministry Committee, and is a facilitator for the Seeing the Face of God in Each Otherworkshop. She found attending her first Racial Equity Training workshop in 2014 to be literally life changing. Although she accepts the fact that she can’t do anything about being white, she believes there can be no disputing the impact of white power and privilege, especially in systems and institutions. As a person of strong faith, she believes God is in the midst of our dedicated anti-racism work. She is actively using her own power and privilege to make change, one small step at a time.
The Rev. Javier Almendárez Bautista is an Associate Rector of St. Paul’s in Cary. He attended Duke Divinity School and Virginia Theological Seminary in preparation for ordained ministry. Prior to attending seminary, Javier worked as a mental health therapist and case manager in Seattle, WA. He was ordained as a transitional deacon in June 2016 and will be ordained to the priesthood in December.
Cathy Rimer-Surles, her life partner (now wife), and their three children became Episcopalians when they were lovingly embraced several years ago by the parishioners of St. Luke’s in Durham. Even after having been passionately involved in social justice activism her whole life, Cathy found attending her first Racial Equity Workshop to be a truly transformative experience. Since then, she has dedicated herself as a person of faith to the practice of anti-racism and is a founding member of EUAR as well as Co-Chair of the Organizing Against Racism-Durham Leadership Team. She is inspired by our growing network of committed anti-racist Episcopalians.
In graduate school, Jeanine Driscoll’s classmates challenged her to begin coming to terms with her white privilege and power. Fast forward to two summers ago, when she participated in a Racial Equity Training workshop and met DeDreanna, Cathy, Monnie and soon after, Javier who together became the five founding members of EUAR. Currently, Jeanine is an intern for Holy Orders at St. Andrew’s, Haw River. Her sponsoring parish is St. Matthew’s, Hillsborough.
The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber is Rector of St. Luke’s in Durham. Growing up in an all-white small town in Kansas, she did not begin to confront racism until her best friends in seminary were a black woman and a hispanic man who began to help her see how racism affected their life everyday. She signed up for the Racial Equity Institute shortly after moving to Durham, and has helped St. Luke’s become more active in understanding and working against racism. She has been involved in EUAR since 2014 and is grateful for the support of this group. Helen is happy to speak to other clergy about supporting racial equity work in their own congregations and communities. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane Strangis is a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Durham. Her journey to understanding the impact of white privliege and racism began when a Freedom Rider spoke to her church youth group in the 1960s. As a classroom teacher and college professor she presented professional development and taught courses that focused on helping professionals and future teachers understand themselves and to create environments that were intentionally inclusive. She finds in EUAR an opportunity to explore her own white privilege and to work within the Episcopal Church to advocate for racial justice and equity in church practices, policies and ministries as well in our geographic communities.
Eileen Morgan has had a heart for justice since her college days in Valparaiso, IN in the late 1960’s and her early years in Chicago where she served as a Lutheran Deaconess. She has been a member of St. Luke’s in Durham since 2008 and was accepted into the Episcopal Church in 2009. Attending a Racial Equity Institute workshop in Fall, 2014 helped to pull together for her the many pieces of the history and ongoing systemic nature of racism and energized her to commit to an ongoing ministry of anti-racism work, especially in the White faith-community. As a follower of Jesus, she seeks to embody the ministry of Jesus who was “anointed to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18) She is a member of EUAR to give and receive support for the journey and has led monthly Racial Equity Prayer services at St. Luke’s on the 3rd Tuesday each month (12:15 pm).
Sue Guptill is a member of St. Philip’s Durham. She is in her fifth year on the Bishop’s Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, and currently serves as chair. She is also a member of the St. Phillip's Racial Justice and Reconciliation Ministry, and a facilitator for the Diocesan workshop Seeing the Face of God in Each Other. As a native North Carolinian with a career in Public Health, she has been aware of racial inequities and injustice for most of her life. She was persuaded to take the Racial Equity Institute training in 2015, and was deeply impressed with it. She particularly appreciates the resources and skills it fosters for people who are trying to find a way to discuss racism. The opportunity to meet with other Episcopalians and continue to explore issues of racism, particularly institutional racism has been inspirational.
Meg McCann is a member of St. Philip’s, Durham. She is rotating off the Bishop’s Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, where she helped to develop and implement the 2015 Diocesan Convention’s resolution that calls on each congregation to undertake at least one initiative annually to address systemic racial inequity and injustice. Reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, watching the documentary Traces of the Trade, and attending the Racial Equity Training workshop opened her eyes to white privilege and systemic racism.