But while these rituals connect me to the story of the Queen’s long life and service to empire, the bonds we share are not simple ones. As a Black woman in the United States, descended from enslaved Africans and subjugated Native Americans, I will never be able to map my family tree or tell the story of my ancestors in the way that the global news media has recently scrutinized the Royal Family’s lineage and historic lines of succession. My ministry as a bishop is challenged at every turn by the legacy of slavery and racism that has shaped the United States’ cultural and economic systems in ways that, even today, we struggle even to see. As bishop of a diocese with the privilege of historic financial endowments, I seek ways to be faithful to Anglican mission partners in Haiti and Brazil through mutual relationships in Christ that must navigate the vast disparities in our economic circumstances. And as a straight woman who is completely committed to the full equality of LGBTQ+ people in our churches, I must stay in relationship with my fellow Anglican bishops who do not affirm the humanity of these beloved children of God, even as I work to end homophobia and transphobia across the globe.
Once upon a time, the sun never set on the British Empire. Today, we understand that those colonial structures, often constructed and maintained by Anglican missionaries, left deep scars in every country where they were found. But while I do not pledge fealty to the Queen or answer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, I believe with all my heart that the shared Anglican rituals and traditions on display during this time of British national mourning are a crucible for relationships, borne of a shared history, that can help transform the world. As our graveside liturgy proclaims, “Even at the grave, we make our song. Alleluia.”