What a week of weather this has been! Just the other day, the high in Hillsdale reached 67 degrees and students were out in t-shirts and shorts – and this morning (Sunday) we woke up to snow. I guess this is a sure sign that it’s spring.
As chair of the Resolution Review Committee for Diocesan Council, I am blessed to work with other committed individuals who have a desire to see the intentions of our Church fulfilled throughout our diocese. This week, the Rev. Deacon Anthony Estes has explored Resolution A225: On the Importance of Ecumenism for Becoming Beloved Community from last summer’s General Convention which reads:
A225: On the Importance of Ecumenism for Becoming Beloved Community
Resolved, That, whereas the Presiding Bishop has articulated three foci for the work of Becoming Beloved Community—care of creation, racial reconciliation, and evangelism–the 79th General Convention recognizes that we cannot do this work alone, and that we have much to offer other church traditions and much to learn from them in the work of the three above named areas; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention encourage all Provinces, Regional Consultative Groups, Dioceses, Episcopal Communities, and Parishes to seek ecumenical partners for mutual up-building in the areas of care of creation, racial reconciliation, and evangelism; and be it further
Resolved, That they be encouraged to seek ecumenical partners that reflect the racial, ethnic, national, linguistic, and cultural diversity of their context.
I’m pleased to share Anthony’s thoughts with you:
On A225: On the Importance of Ecumenism for Becoming Beloved Community
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of the Beloved Community is an attainable reality of living in peace with our neighbors in our local and global community. Dr. King preached nonviolence as the way to actualize this vision. The noun itself, “violence” has at its root a sense of violating the honor of something or someone. To be clear, taking intentional action to be in community is to honor the beautiful distinction and celebrate the blessed sameness that all of us possess.
We have taken Dr. King’s vision further by identifying creation care, racial reconciliation, and evangelism as currents within the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. Here in the Diocese of Michigan, we are working in these areas, and credit for spiritual and relational healing here goes to the conversations we are having about race. It is a conversation that needs to continue as our region will continue to grapple with life at the intersections of race, wealth, and class.
Both the challenge and promise of Becoming Beloved Community is in realizing that the Beloved Community is already what we are, it is already at work among us and in us. When we allow secondary narratives to become truer than Jesus’ word and work in us, becoming the beloved community will only result in frustration and exhaustion. We need renewal and reinvigoration if we are to continue this Gospel work.
To that end, the 79th General Convention, continued work on the Beloved Community was affirmed and commended to local dioceses and parishes to engage. In Resolution A225: On the Importance of Ecumenism for Becoming Beloved Community, we are asked to figure out how to share in the work of creation care, racial reconciliation, and evangelism. As conversations around Ecclesiology, the nature of the Church, become more critical for ministry in the 21st century, a natural impulse is to develop and strengthen relationships with our fellow Christian sisters and brothers across denominations.
Sharing in conversation with our sisters and brothers ministering alongside us may be an untapped vein by which we can mine the gems of The Beloved Community. Is it possible for our churches to build bridges between our suburbs and our cities so that the spatial racism that affects Metro Detroit is addressed in a Gospel-centered way? Here in our diocese, Christ Church Cranbrook (CCC) and her Rector, the Reverend Dr. William J. Danaher, Jr. (Canon for Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations), were awarded a grant from the Lily Foundation for organizing a multi-denominational cohort of pastors from across the Metropolitan Detroit area. CCC’s Institute for Advanced Pastoral Studies’ first annual conference will focus on “Leading the Beloved Community.” Pastoring with credibility in this region demands resilience and a network of support because the work the Church does is continuously met with apathy, cynicism, and complete dismissal from the world around us. More information about the institute can be found at their website.
What’s something that all of us can do? We can reach out to our neighbors. Some of us may share street blocks or even parking lots with another congregation. Can we work to find ways to join each other’s projects and activities around creation care, racial reconciliation, and evangelism? Moreover, if neither congregation has any programming, can we start conversations to plan something together?
There is no greater honor we can show to one another than making time to be with one another. Let’s keep an eye out opportunities and events in our communities and neighboring congregations. Mark them on your calendar, and then go! The Beloved Community becomes more and more real every time we sit down and talk with our neighbors, especially in the Church community because we’re all working toward the same end: The Kingdom of God among us. This is the soul of being the Beloved Community.
Thank you, Anthony, for your fine commentary and practical suggestions. Another resource you might find helpful is “Becoming Beloved Community…Where You Are: A Resource for Individuals, Congregations & Communities Seeking Racial Healing Reconciliation and Justice” prepared by The Episcopal Church.
Let us work together to be the Beloved Community that all may come to experience the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.
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.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council