Greetings, Friends –
What a week we’ve just had! I feel drained as I’m sure most of you do. How our God must grieve at the sights and sounds of all the hatred and cruelty. I am so grateful for the wise words of our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and our own Bishop Gibbs. We need the reminders that there’s no room for hate here – even though we already know that. Surrounded by all the news images and talking head rhetoric, it’s all too easy to lose focus and “forget” that God is still sovereign and God’s language is that of love and justice for all. As I felt anxiety and anger beginning to take hold again, I looked for words of peace and grace. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think that there’s much about which to be angry – and anger at injustice and bigotry can indeed be motivation to act and get involved. Yet, anger and anxiety can also be paralyzing and hope-sapping. We can’t succumb to this kind of paralysis because there is much for us to do.
I was encouraged listening to an interview with the Rev. Robert Wright Lee, a nephew many generations removed from General Robert E Lee on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Host Lulu Garcia-Navarro quoted Lee’s sermon from last week: “if you are silent at a moment like this, if you do not condemn the racism you see through whatever channels and avenues you have, you can leave church now because you’re doing church wrong.” She then asked if this was the type of sermon his congregation was used to hearing. Lee replied:
Well, I would say it’s not the message that we’re used to hearing from our pulpits. But maybe now is the time to start having those messages. The parishioners responded with great grace and hope for the future. And they recognized that what we have been doing – what we have done as a white, downtown church where I preached this sermon, in Statesville, was problematic because we have not spoken to our black neighbors. We have not spoken out for people of color, and we have to start doing that if we want to make a difference in this world and if we want to be relevant as a church in the 21st century.
I think about it this way. When the Israelites were freed from Pharaoh and went out into the wilderness, they had to be told time and time again who they were, why they were there, what they meant to God. And I think the same is true for our churches in the white church. We have to be told time and time again that we are complicit in racism, that we are complicit in privilege. But we are afforded some good privilege that we can use for good in this world.
You can find a transcript to the entire interview by clicking here.
If we are part of the white church, it is time that we acknowledge our culpability in allowing a culture of white supremacy to continue and begin to use the privilege we have to speak truth to power. Silence in the face of injustice is how we got here. It can’t continue.
I’ll be honest, though. At the moment, I’m weary and feel scared and weak. As one person, I feel very inadequate. And that’s why we so desperately need each other to come together for support and strength. That’s why we need to commit to The Episcopal Church’s focus on becoming the Beloved Community because community means we are working together. You can find resources for individuals and congregations here.
One last tidbit before I go… Amidst the turmoil of the week, there was one event for me that provided a pleasant and hopeful respite from all the noise. Your deputation for General Convention 2018 met for an informal getting-to-know- you dinner in Detroit. As a reminder, here’s the list of deputies that you elected at our last Diocesan Convention:
Susan Anslow Williams
Eric Travis, chair
Although General Convention is still 11 months away, work is now beginning in the deputation so that we can be the best representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan we can be. At our dinner, the Rev. Phil Dinwidde shared his thoughts on the roles of the deputy which he sees as fourfold:
1. Preparation Beforehand
2. Active Engagement at Convention
3. Reporting Back Upon Return
4. Creative Attention to the Needs of the Church
I will have much more to say about this in future blogs but, for now, we ask your prayers as we begin our preparation. We also would love to hear your ideas and dreams for the future of our Church. Please feel free to contact any one of us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Let us pray –
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer, p. 815)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council