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

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Reparations Fund Matching Grant Opportunity: Summer 2024

June 4, 2024

This summer is your special opportunity to make a contribution to First Church’s Reparations Fund. A First Church member wishing to remain anonymous will match contributions up to a maximum of $25,000. With the matching campaign, we hope to inspire new people to join in growing the Reparations Fund. Beginning with our yearly observance of Juneteenth and running through Labor Day, your 25 dollars becomes 50 dollars and your 1,000 dollars means that 2,000 dollars go into the Fund.

Some current funders contribute monthly or yearly, and others have given a one-time offering. We are grateful to past contributors, who have given a total of $103,000 as of January 2024. You may give online; please be sure to choose “Reparations Fund.” Or you may write a check payable to “First Church in Cambridge” with “Reparations Fund” in the memo line.

How will your contribution be used?
In April 2024, First Church’s Executive Council voted to approve a new and broader definition of the church’s Reparation Fund that reflects the breadth of the relationships and local efforts in which First Church has engaged since the Reparations Fund began. Funds collected from individuals and from First Church’s Missions & Social Justice Committee’s budget will be distributed in three equal portions:

  • 1/3 to “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.
  • 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 Beloved Community subcommittee of majority People of Color First Church members.

What is the Reparations Fund?
In 2021, the First Church community felt called to create the Reparations Fund to engage in a process of wealth redistribution and the spiritual practice of repair and restitution (returning what one wrongfully took). Rather than “giving” or “donating” to worthy causes, we are engaging in a spiritual and ethical journey of repaying a debt owed. This debt is owed because of our individual and church-wide complicity in white supremacy—both historically, with our church history of members enslaving other members, and in the present day, for the advantages gained throughout almost 400 years of history by our largely-white congregation.

 

Learn more about First Church’s Reparations work.

Give to the Reparations Fund.