BENDING THE GLOBAL ARC OF JUSTICE
Chair, Global Mission Commission, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta | Christ Episcopal Church, Macon
Communities in Cuba, Ghana and Haiti need sustainable solutions for poverty, hunger and disease, and allies have stepped up: The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and volunteer Harry Groce. Only 28, he brings a lifetime of international travel witnessing the power of relationships across borders.
“People in general are pretty similar,” said Groce, a member of Christ Church Macon. “We all want the same things, have the same fears and face similar struggles. That prepared me to go into this with compassion, a sense of justice, to say, ‘Let’s see the obstacles we face together. How can we work together to solve them?’”
Groce’s leadership of the diocesan Global Mission Commission, and participation on the Ministry Innovations Task Force, applies his academic knowledge. His Sewanee undergraduate degree focused on global economics in Latin America and the Middle East. His University of Georgia master’s degree in international policy centered on climate change, security and economic development.
In Cuba, Episcopal parishes supply drinking water in some communities, but operations can be tenuous. For instance, the diocese relies on revenues from leasing a dairy farm that needed a better location in 2019. To make that happen, Groce helped secure a $25,000 Atlanta diocesan grant. A 2023 pilgrimage group from Atlanta got to see similar impact at a pig farm operated by The Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast, Ghana, which is expected to raise the area’s economy.
(Political issues have curtailed work with The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, though many parishes in The Diocese of Atlanta continue partnerships there. Haiti’s 97,909 members in 2022 represent The Episcopal Church’s largest diocese; Atlanta has 50,000 plus members.)
“It doesn’t matter how much we preach The Gospel, how much we talk about Jesus, if we don’t follow his commands to care for the marginalized, improve the most basic aspects of people’s lives and build a more just society,” said Groce, research director at Georgia Neurosurgical Institute and adjunct professor at Mercer University. “We can hopefully bend the arc of justice just a little bit.”
Anyone can help inspire the drive for mission in the Atlanta diocese, to build bridges to parishes around the world. “This work has led to something in my soul that I didn’t know existed before,” Groce said. “I have never felt more ‘me’ than when I’m doing this work.”