Organ pipes in the Sanctuary of First Church in Cambridge. A wrought iron chandelier hangs in the foreground.

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First Church Reparations Fund: May 2024 Update

May 21, 2024

As part of our racial justice journey at First Church, the Spirit called us to create the
Reparations Fund in 2021 to engage in a process of wealth redistribution and the spiritual practice of repair and relinquishment (vs. charitable giving). The First Church Reparations Fund encourages both one-time and periodic donations from individuals; the Missions & Social Justice Committee has also made donations from their budget.

As of January, 2024, First Church has donated $103,000 to the non-profit that acts as the fiscal agent for a group we call “The Collective,” people of African descent engaged in activism and anti-racist work convened by Rev. Karlene Griffiths Sekou. They make decisions as to how the money is spent, and during the past 3 years have supported small business ventures, college education funds, aid to people to catch up on rent, and immigration needs. In one case, a member of the Collective was in Haiti when the earthquake struck. With money from the Collective, they were able to get aid into the mountains to villages that had not received any aid.

At its April 22 meeting, First Church’s Executive Council voted to approve a new and broader definition of the church’s Reparation Fund.

Moving forward, the Reparations Fund will be distributed in three equal portions across three different domains: 

  • 1/3 to “The Collective” (as described in Executive Council’s original measure),
  • 1/3 to the Lloyd family’s Slave Legacy History Coalition [the Lloyds are direct descendants of enslaved people in First Church’s records], and 
  • 1/3 to further reparative efforts, including ongoing outreach to Indigenous communities, to be determined by a small subcommittee of majority POC First Church members.

We will continue to review this structure (annually) as our learning continues and while honoring existing commitments and relationships.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for how you can contribute to the Reparations Fund.