First Parish in Needham Logo

23 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02492

Reparations:  What does it mean for First Parish in Needham?



August 30, 2020

10:30 am via Service Link:

Service Leader:  The Reparations Task Force


The Reparations Task Force has been tackling the issue of reparations for the labor of our first sexton, a man named Homer, who was enslaved by our first minister, Rev. Jonathan Townsend.  Our work is part of a larger movement in the nation to make reparations to the descendants of the Africans who were enslaved in America for 250 years and still suffer from the effects of racism today.  Our intent is be actively anti-racist by building awareness, educating ourselves and others, and recognizing our role in the institution of slavery and the resulting racism that still exists in our society today.  Come hear about this issue and learn about what actions we are planning for the First Parish community and how you can get involved.


The Racial Justice Task Force was formed in January 2015 in response to the killings of black men by police that started coming to light in 2014 and the resulting Black Lives Matter movement.  They have done a lot of different things over the ensuing years.  Reparations is their current focus as a direct result of Rev. Catie’s sermon, “Northern Reparations”, given in February, 2019 and her follow-up in February, 2020.  The RJTF opened up the topic of reparations last February with a reading of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article “The Case for Reparations.”  That discussion group was attended by about 15 people, and out of that The Reparations Task Force was formed.  Currently composed of Wendy Blom, Linda Davis, Ross Donald, Ellen Fine, Si Si Goneconto, George Goneconto, Carolyn Lynes, Vicky Makrides, Marianne McGowan, and Jackie Shepherd, they are looking at concrete things that can be done within our own congregation and the wider Needham community.