According to Newsweek, the number of religious groups implementing reparations programs for Black Americans are increasing. Rev. Ryan Marsh of the Salt House, a Lutheran Church located in a suburb of Seattle, says his church designates one percent of their budget, approximately $6000, to reparations efforts. Members are also asked to donate to the fund. Marsh told Newsweek that lotteries are used to distribute the money on Juneteenth and in December. Marsh says that “the church cannot wait for governments to act justly.”
Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore voted last January to donate five $100,000 grants to the Guy Hollyday Memorial and Justice Reparations Fund. The funds are used for criminal justice reform, affordable housing, safe drinking water, more urban green spaces, local schools and more jobs for black youth. Black led nonprofits or black led organizations manage the donations.
United Parish of Brookline, Massachusetts takes up an offering when a traditional black spiritual is sung. The program is based on the belief that slaves, who composed the hymns, never got paid. The church is reporting that approximately $12,000 dollars has been raised since the effort started in October 2021. The money will fund a music program for black youth. Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church of Denver has a program similar to United Parish. The church donates $500 to a fund every time a a spiritual is sung during a worship service. A representative for Montview says that local black musicians will be consulted on where the money should be spent.
The Center for Congregational Song in Washington DC has a Reparations Royalty Project. The church says that 20 ministries have expressed interest in their program. And the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Northwest Washington Synod in Seattle has a reparation fund for their Black clergy.
In an interview with Newsweek, the author of “The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism,”Jemar Tisby, says that Christians are complicit in racism.
A representative for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) says that “it’s not only compensation that’s needed, but a more expansive effort that involves rehabilitation for those injured and restoration of all that was originally lost.”