On Saturday, November 1st, All Saints Church, Sunderland and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church USA will hold a service of Repentance and Reconciliation to acknowledge their complicity in the institution of slavery and will offer prayers of celebration for the progress toward equality since 1864. “It is our hope that you will be able to join us to honor this anniversary and those who have lived and died in the continuing struggle for justice, dignity and mutual respect; and, look with us to the future,” said the Rev. Kenneth Phelps; All Saints Rector.

Although All Saints’ community celebration starts at 9 A.M., the church is also one of the stops on the Maryland Episcopal Diocese “Trail of Souls” pilgrimage bus tour commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Abolition of Chattel Slavery in Maryland.  A bus pilgrimage and caravan will depart from the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore and then proceed to three historic parishes, ending at the Bishop Claggett Center, Buckeystown, MD. The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, USA will visit All Saints for this Day of Repentance and Reconciliation, along with The Rt. Reverend Eugene Taylor Sutton, Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland; The Rt. Reverend Heather E. Cook, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland and the Rt. Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Diocese of Washington.

The Presiding Bishop, by way of the bus pilgrimage, will travel first to All Hallows Church, Davidsonville, where the first African was baptized, then on to All Saints’ Parish, Sunderland, whose old brick church was built by slaves.  The third stop will be Grace Church, Silver Spring, which was founded in 1855, and then on to the Hasselbach family cemetery at Claggett, which contains the remains of members of that family along with two people who were enslaved. History, liturgy and prayer will be offered at each stop.  The pilgrimage will conclude with a festive worship celebration in Monocacy Hall at the Bishop Claggett Center.

These and other Episcopal churches have been researching their histories, in preparation for the 150th anniversary celebration.  The Trail of Souls commemoration will continue after Nov. 1 with an Internet guidebook about the 20 historic churches, so that visitors can learn more about the lives of the people who worshiped at these churches, and honor those who were oppressed and those who struggled for change.

“Step by small step, we can break down the historical, social and economic barriers that have divided us for far too long. This is one more step in that process,” says Rev. Phelps.

If you would like more information about All Saint’s Day of Repentance, Reconciliation and the celebration of Maryland’s 150th anniversary enactment of its Emancipation Proclamation, please visit http://trailofsouls.org. If you would like to see the itinerary for the day, please visit http://trailofsouls.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Itinerary-for-web_9-12-14.pdf.  If you would like more information about All Saint Episcopal Church, please visit http://www.allsaints1692.org/.