Reparations Committee

The Reparations Committee is a subcommittee of the Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Its mission is to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”

The committee was formed in response to the Episcopal Church’s commitment “to become a transformed, anti-racist church and to work toward healing, reconciliation, and a restoration of wholeness to the family of God.” The Committee formed the Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program at the request of Bishop Provenzano with the intent to further equity in education.

CLICK HERE to download scholarship application

At a Juneteenth celebration on June 19 2022 at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, the Right Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, Episcopal Bishop of Long Island, awarded scholarships to eight college students with records of academic excellence and commitments to their communities.

The awards were the first scholarships from The Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program that was created this year by the recently formed diocesan Reparations Committee, for Black, African American, or Caribbean American descendants of enslaved people who are pursing higher education or vocational training.

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Scholarship Eligibility 

To be eligible for consideration applicants must be:

  • Black, African American, and/or Caribbean American and must be a descendant of enslaved people
  • Be a U.S. citizen or hold  permanent resident status
  • Reside in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island (Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk)
  • Be starting, or continuing to pursue, post-secondary education at an accredited college or university or advanced vocational or trade union training program
  • Applicants do not have to be Episcopalian.
  • Successful applicants will demonstrate scholarly achievement, leadership skills, involvement in their communities, and a commitment to continuing education.
  • Applicants must submit a completed application, high-school transcripts, and two letters of recommendation to by March 31, 2023.

One-time college scholarships of $5,000, and comparable amounts for vocational training/trade apprenticeship fees, will be available to award recipients through their college, university or occupational training institution. Scholarship monies will not be awarded directly to award recipients.

Video: Bishop Provenzano Announces Bishop Barbara C. Harris Scholarships


In March 2021, the Right Reverend Lawrence C. Provenzano, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, charged members of the Reparations Committee to design a program to present academic scholarships and trade union fee awards to the descendants of enslaved African people in the Diaspora. Reparations committee members developed a system to grant these awards to applicants residing with the borders of our Diocese. This includes the New York City Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Recipients are not required to be members of the Episcopal Church, but they must live within The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.


This scholarship program is named in honor of the life, legacy, and ordained ministry of the Right Reverend Barbara C. Harris, the first woman of African-American descent to be consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program aims to promote equity in education by providing financial assistance to Blacks, African Americans and Caribbean-Americans, who are African Descendants of Slavery in the United States. 


The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, Bishop of the Diocese of Long Island, will present the awards at a Juneteenth Celebration at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City on Saturday, June 17, 2023. Further details on the celebration are forthcoming.

Life & Legacy of BARBARA C. HARRIS

harris-for-website--200----216-px-.pngBarbara Clementine Harris was born on June 12, 1930, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Harris, whose maternal great-grandmother, Ida Brauner Sembley, was born into slavery, was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the nineteen sixties. She was a member of the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU), and the National Council of Churches’ Delta Ministry. She participated in the Freedom Rides, as well as traveled to Greenville, Mississippi to register Black voters. Harris also marched alongside thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama as part of the Selma to Montgomery March lead by The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. At the time of her death, March 13, 2020, Harris served as Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. 

Bishop Harris was a remarkable woman; one of God's chosen to bring change and advocate for the inclusion of women, Black people, and LGBTQ+ individuals who had been marginalized and discriminated against. Her advocacy brought about historic change to the Episcopal Church and its leadership hierarchy.

Meet the Reparations Committee

reparations-headshots--3-.pngCommittee Chair, Penny Allen Grinage, is a life-long member of St. Stephen and St. Martin’s Church in Brooklyn. She has served as a lay leader in her church as both warden and vestry person. She worked for 12 years as an elementary school principal with the NYC Department of Education and retired after 34 years as an educator. She also worked as an adjunct professor for Touro College and as an educational consultant. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision. She currently serves on the Diocesan Council, the Reparations subcommittee, as a board member of Episcopal Ministries of Long Island (EMLI) and on the Grant Review Committee. She is also active in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE).

reparations-headshots--1-.pngDr. Dee J. Laffin has been an active member of St. Paul’s Patchogue for 34 years. She has served as a member and Jr. Warden of their Vestry and presently serves on Diocesan Council. Co-chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, she most recently was a member of the Bishop’s Taskforce on Reopening. Dr. Laffin holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, Master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and SUNY Stony Brook, and a Doctorate in Higher Education from Nova Southeastern University.

reparations-headshots.pngMerrick K. Williams is a steward of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, and currently serves on The Reparations Committee, a subcommittee of the Diocesan Council at the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. He formerly served on Racial Justice & Reconciliation Commission. In addition, Williams was appointed to the Task Force that Responds to the Opioid Epidemic; created by a resolution passed at the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Williams was previously awarded the Church Club of New York’s inaugural Young Adult of the Year Award for Service Recognition.

reparations-headshots.pngThe Rev. John Shirley is currently the rector of St. Mary’s, Lake Ronkonkoma.  Before his time at St. Mary’s, Fr. John served as curate at the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. He also serves on the Diocesan Council, is a member of the diocesan Latino/Hispanic Commission, and serves on the diocesan #MeToo committee.