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July 2024

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Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Farewell from the 2023/24 Social Work Interns

Gina on the Horizon

Mark Your Calendars for the Healthy Aging Research California Virtual Summit

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Putting the Strategic Plan into Practice

Washington Park: Pasadena’s Rediscovered Gem

Introducing Civil Rights Discussions

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No Discussion Meeting on May 3rd

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The 2024 Pasadena Village Volunteer Appreciation Lunch

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January 2024

Telling the Whole Story

By Richard Myers
Posted: 06/12/2024
Tags: history, brian biery, race relations

Notes by Sharron Jarrett:


The 1619 Lingering Imprint Discussion Group met on June 6th at 10:00 AM PST. Dick Myers opened the meeting and introduced Brian Biery, whose presentation included a panel working with the "Telling The Whole Story Project,” at All Saints and Saint Barnabas Episcopal Churches in Pasadena, California.


These two historic, more than 100-year-old churches, one white congregation and one colored, have  history that is being examined. All Saints was an integrated institution in the early Pasadena days, with social change in the early 1900’s, St. Barnabus was created as an Episcopal congregation for people of color. Today, the two churches are looking at that history and exploring what it means to their current congregations. 


The meeting was recorded is available on the Pasadena Village YouTube channel as "Telling The Whole Story”. 


The members of the panel included:


Steven Williams.           All Saints Church member, member of the Telling the Whole Story Project, 

                                         Member of the Racial Justice Ministry


Bill Gould.                       All Saints Church member, Racial Justice Advisory Co Chair, Vestry Member,

                                         member Telling the Whole Story Project


Marco White.                 Saint Barnabas Church member, Vestry member


Walter Little.                  All Saints Church Junior Warden


Brian Biery.                     Telling the Whole Story member, local historian


The meeting began with a overall explanation of the work of the Telling The Whole Story Project.  The project tries to determine the role of community members in building a caring and ethical community.  This includes the development of an inclusive community which acknowledges the effects of racism and the need to heal injuries.


The members initially acknowledged the content of the discussion would make participants uncomfortable, but, this was important for meaningful change.


The focus of the panel was:


*  understanding the truth of the saying "history is written by the victors"


*  acknowledging micro experience reflects broader experience connected to the community


*  answering the question "what do we do with the information, how do we look at the world, what can you do as part of a network or an individual?"


*  acknowledging we ask people of color to address racism which places the burden on the people who were harmed.


Next, the panel explained the founding of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.  St. Barnabas was founded because American History is white centered.  No one knows much of the broader history of the founding.  In the early 1900s Blacks were excluded from attending All Saints Church.  The African American Episcopal community worshiped in homes for ten years.  Most of the homes were in Northwest Pasadena which was an area that African American could live in due to red lining and other restrictive practices. Over time the group of worshipers were recognized by the Episcopal Diocese as "Mission of the Episcopal Diocese" in 1924.  


In 1933, land was donated on Fair Oaks by the Dobns family to allow a church to be built.  The Fleming Family donated money for constructioning the church that exists today.  This raises the question "why land and money" outside All Saints.  The answer provided by the panel was the congregation was willing to expend funds to have Black congregants worship in their own separate church, essentially indicating people of color and with fewer economic resources were separate from the All Saints parish.  This decision was both racist, but, also based on wealth inequities.


The panel next addressed the question "why is All Saints working on reconciliation?" Many of the parishioners at All Saints knew nothing of the history of the separation of the churches.  The panel indicated some parish members needed to be "shamed" into acting.  And the panel acknowledged some parish members remain resistant to discussing the racial divide. 


Black parishioners acknowledged the discomfort created and the lack of participation as conversations about the history evolved.  One panel member pointed out turning Black parishioners away has harmed the congregation.  The panelist indicated this has created a moral debt that is subject to compound interest.  The panel raising the question "is the church ready for change?"


In closing the panelists asked participants "what does the beloved community look like?" And "what do we want to accomplish?"  Panelists made the following closing statements:


*  vulnerability is needed and we have to be willing to build relationships


*  we are not in a post racial society, we need to work as allies


*  how can everyone help create meaningful action to repair and heal


*  healing takes time and must be a life change.


The panel concluded with the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, "we will not remember the words of our enemies, but, the silence of our friends."


During this meeting the following books, organizations and projects were noted:




These are available at Vroman’s Bookstore


1.    Black and Episcopalian: The Struggle for Inclusion

              Gayle Fisher Stewart


2.    Hearts on Fire: The Evolution of an Urban Church

               Bill Lane Doulas


3.    The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

                Isabel Wilkerson



Aware LA

Alliance of White Anti Racists Everywhere, Los Angeles



Telling the Whole Story Project

All Saints Episcopal Church


Brian Biery also provided some links to references that might be of interest to our viewers:


A church rises from racism to celebrate a centennial of triumphs in Pasadena

This historically Black Pasadena church just turned 100, with a message: Love

Historically Black St. Barnabas Episcopal Church Celebrates 100th Anniversary in Pasadena

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church to celebrate centennial

At 100 years old, Pasadena’s St. Barnabas Episcopal Church keeps serving up the ‘love’

 St. Barnabas Church: A Surprising Story


    Walking Tour of the African American History of Pasadena

The Episcopal News

Still they rise: St. Barnabas’ Church, Pasadena, celebrates 100th year

Historically Black St. Barnabas' Episcopal Church, Pasadena, to celebrate 100th anniversary

Historically Black St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, to celebrate 100th anniversary


The next meeting will be June 21st at 12:00 PM PST. It will be an interesting start for this coming  meeting to discuss the June 7 meeting and the topics brought up in that session. This is the story of two,  100+ year old Episcopal Churches in Pasadena; two different congregations, one white and one colored. Their histories are intertwined and there is an effort to get the whole story known and to have a conversation between the churches about their current relationship. This is a current discussion about what our 1619 group is exploring. Our goal is to clarify and understand our history and the impact it has on the community we live in today, specifically in regards to the institutional slavery and how it has influences our current racial views.



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