Two years ago, I was fortunate to go with the Youth and Young Adults from the diocese of Michigan to attend General Convention in Austin. Watching the proceedings were exciting. I saw firsthand how the church works. General Convention is where I first heard of the Becoming Beloved Community. I came back to Michigan and would like to see the youth and young adults demonstrate what we along with the rest of the church have been challenged to do. Convention adopted a resolution expressing this desire:
A207: Encouraging Mission as Part of the Beloved Community
Resolved: That the 79th General Convention reaffirm that “being a beloved community” means being members of a global community honoring our full name: The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, The this General Convention affirm that in baptism we are called to companionship, which means standing with, traveling with, and sharing bread with another, and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention continue to repent of colonialism and recognize that the work of mission is a Christ-centered, mutual undertaking, which is most effective when the traditional roles of “giver” and “receiver” are discarded, and the gifts of all are accepted, welcomed, and utilized, and be it further
Resolved , That this General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations and mission organizations to establish productive mutual relationships with other outreach communities that have similar intent, but may not be part of the Episcopal Church, and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention urge dioceses, congregations, and individuals to pray regularly for specific dioceses and congregations and individuals with whom they are in companionship, and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals to form one-to-one relationships through social media with individuals and congregations with whom they are in companionship.
Becoming Beloved Community means becoming one harmonious community that worship, work, live, eat and pray together. I envision this to be a loving and supportive community. Let’s start with the peace at church on Sunday. Shake the hand of someone you don’t know. Truly mean what you are saying when you say “May the peace of the Lord be with you”. Acknowledge a visitor at coffee hour and invite them to come back.
Matthew 25:31 reminds us with these words, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” If we do this together, treat everyone we meet like a guest, we will become beloved community.
We are called to live out our baptismal vows. One promise that comes to mind is, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” Yes we will. We should work towards a common goal. We come together as a community when we attend football games and soccer games. We do the same thing when we attend the Opera House for a production. Why can’t we do the same as part of the Jesus movement in our communities? We should create spaces where everyone can feel equally welcomed, supported and respected. The church building is a great place to start. Invite others into our spaces and be positively curious and open when others invite you into their spaces.
Let us pray for one another. Prayer does not only happen in church or in our homes. Prayer involves thinking and wishing someone well. Prayer involves action also. It could be a nutritious meal made for a stranger or a friend. We pray when we forgive. Prayer is being inclusive. Prayer is being supportive. It is the voice we hear when we become Beloved Community.
Look around our communities; we are becoming more diverse. We need to stop making the same mistakes that were made in the past. Let us take the time to listen to each other. We grew up with social media. I suggest we use it to communicate in a way that everyone feels welcome and included in the conversation. Let us answer this question, “What would Jesus do?”
The Episcopal Church has prepared a wonderful resource for those that want to learn more!
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.
~ Luke Thompson, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council