To the Good People of St. John’s;
Reprinted below is a letter diocesan clergy received on Friday, May 5th from our Assistant Bishop, The Rt. Rev Mary Glasspool. This letter contains several thought provoking statements, first with reference to the wrestling around issues of race we, as a society, as a Church and as individuals need to undertake. Such wrestling is difficult, such wrestling asks us to spend time examining not simply our habits, but the impact each of us has on the other.
The second aspect I would like us, here at St. John’s to focus on is Bishop Glasspool’s third point, that we are somehow finished, graduated from the call to Worship when we are confirmed. Confirmation is the point at which we begin our adult journey with God. To paraphrase Bishop Glasspool, it is the “ongoingness” of our lifelong journey of formation and transformation that is highlighted in our Confirmation.
I also draw your attention to Bishop Shin’s quote, “The heart of reconciliation is honoring the dignity of difference.” As we, in our small Family of Faith have been working toward becoming more closely knitted together, we have experienced the angst change causes. For example children do indeed make a joyful noise, and older folks do like silences. And there must be room, gracious, expansive room for both in our common Worship. Parents of young ones must not be made to feel awkward, parents of grown children need to search for ways to keep their teenage children coming, joy in moments of silence needs to be learned. And each of us needs to work toward the comfort of the other.
Such challenges are the awesomeness of intergenerational Worship; like a big family gathering for Thanksgiving, “…we never did it that way…” “Your Grandmother always made the gravy with the giblets.” Yes, but the kids hate the giblets, so we don’t do that anymore.” What happens next determines if the family gathers happily or guiltily next year. We need to “…honor the dignity of difference,” here at home and out in the world.
A copy of Becoming a Beloved Community is available at the back of the Church, or you may download a copy from the link embedded in Bishop Glasspool’s letter.
May 5, 2017 An Unofficial Letter from Bishop Assistant Mary D. Glasspool
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
In this issue: Becoming Beloved Community - The Episcopal Church's Long-Term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice. This past week, the Episcopal Church released a 23-page document (link) titled Becoming Beloved Community - The Church's Long-Term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice. The document was a first step in responding to Resolution C019 (Establish Response to Systemic Injustice) out of the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, July 2015. Immediately I downloaded and printed out a copy so that I could read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the contents. A number of things struck me.
First, This is a very usable resource. Having noted the borrowing of a labyrinth image from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Rev. Mpho Tutu's work in The Book of Forgiving, the writers of
the document have surrounded the labyrinth with The Episcopal Church's long-term commitments of: telling the truth; repairing the breach; proclaiming the dream; and practicing the way of love. There is material here for a four-part study group or series of forums on Sunday mornings. There are suggestions for how one might investigate further one's own context and history. There is an exhaustive list throughout of resources that can be easily tapped for educational and other purposes. I am especially appreciative of the dynamic of ongoingness: this is a process, a journey, a movement, and a long-term commitment. It is not a single event - it is a way of life.
Second, if and when you read it, I hope you will share in the deep gratitude I experience as a result of having so many people from the Diocese of New York already (and for a long time before - in many cases, lifelong) engaged in and continuing to work with racial reconciliation and justice. Ms. Diane Pollard, the Committees on Antiracism and Reparations in the Diocese of New York and Ms. Cynthia Copeland and Brother Reginald Martin; Trinity Episcopal Church-Wall Street and the Rev. Winnie Varghese; the Rev. Hershey Mallette Stephens; and The Rt. Rev. Dr. Allen Shin (whose quote is worth memorizing: The heart of reconciliation is honoring the dignity of difference.) are all a part of this publication. And I'm sure there are many others of you who have given of yourselves to racial reconciliation for lo these many years.
Third, I deeply appreciate the recognition of and commitment to the long-term nature of this work. For me, when the Church began using the word lifelong to describe learning, formation, and even transformation, I began to understand that my own relationship with God was not, somehow, "capped" when I graduated from Sunday School (with about an eighth grade understanding of who God is). These are long-term, lifelong processes, which are at once urgent (requiring immediate attention) and ongoing (We cannot "solve" injustice in a day.). So I'm glad to read in the document that this work has been going on for some time; that we're not fully living into God's Dream right now; and that we're ready, willing, and able to continue this work into the future.
So, for example, in our own Diocese of New York, we are working on formulating a second round of Indaba groups, for the purposes not only of getting to know one another better across difference, but also of building Beloved Community and continuing to bring forward God's Reign on earth as we live into God's Dream for us. Even as I write this last, I chastise myself mentally for using so much religious jargon. So my prayer is that you read this well-worth-reading document, and see if God is calling you to use it as a resource/tool in your own context. At very least, rejoice in the Episcopal Church's follow through on this!
God's Peace and much love to all,