Leaders call on Episcopalians to heal ‘pain of racial injustice, division’

Posted Mar 12, 2016

[Episcopal News Service] The leaders of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops and House of Deputies March 12 issued a letter “to welcome sisters and brothers in both Houses and ultimately all Episcopalians to join us” in the ministry of racial justice and reconciliation, as called for last summer by General Convention in Resolution C019.

“The pain of racial injustice and division has wracked our church and the many communities where we both proclaim and embody the gospel of Jesus Christ,” they wrote. “Our collective prayer and action can begin to heal what is broken and nurture the Beloved Community that is God’s dream for all.”

The text of the letter follows in English and Spanish.

The English version may be downloaded here.

The Spanish version maybe downloaded here.

March 12, 2016

Dear Bishops and Deputies,

At General Convention this summer, our church made the strongest commitment in a generation to racial justice and reconciliation. As the leaders of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, we were tasked by Resolution C019 to lead in this holy work, and thus to enable every diocese, ministry, and baptized person in our church to live and bear witness to the teaching of Jesus to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40), by respecting the dignity of every human being, and working to transform the unjust structures of society.

To honor that call, we gathered on February 3 and 4 in Austin, Texas, to share our own gifts and stories, to learn some of the church’s historic and current activities, and to begin to discern a way forward. Rather than proceed with quick fixes or instant program, we adopted two essential practices: deep listening to stories and patient commitment to mutual transformation over the long haul.

Today, we write to welcome sisters and brothers in both Houses and ultimately all Episcopalians to join us in this ministry. The pain of racial injustice and division has wracked our church and the many communities where we both proclaim and embody the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our collective prayer and action can begin to heal what is broken and nurture the Beloved Community that is God’s dream for all.

At this stage, we look forward to convening one or more church-wide gatherings where many voices can share about racial justice and reconciliation, including the myriad racial, ethnic and cultural realities that play out across Latin America, Europe, Asia and deep into indigenous communities on this continent. We have also asked the Presiding Bishop’s staff to research options for the following:

  • – A gathering for listening with Anglican partners in the Global South, with particular attention to colonial and neocolonial patterns of relationship
  • – Vehicles for sharing stories, developing relationships, and listening to the Other
    Age-appropriate formation and education opportunities for dismantling racism
  • – A summary of the church’s current ministries and gifts for racial justice and reconciliation
  • – A census or audit to gain a clearer understanding of the church’s demographic make-up and its historic and current participation in systems of racial injustice

Please join us in spending the remainder of this holy season of Lent in prayer, asking God to prepare our hearts to share and to receive the stories and truths that challenge each of us most. Join us in looking to transformation well beyond a single triennium or even the nine years of a primate’s term, beyond the United States alone, beyond new statements and policies. We share the longing of our Lord Jesus Christ for metanoia — to turn, to be reborn as a Church engaged in behaviors, commitments and relationships that reflect the love of the One who called us to be one.

In the deep love of Christ,
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings
House of Bishops Vice President  Mary Gray-Reeves
House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing
House of Bishops Vice President Dean Wolfe
House of Deputies Secretary Michael Barlowe

12 de marzo de 2016

Estimados Obispos y Diputados:

En la convención general del verano, nuestra iglesia adquirió el compromiso más vigoroso de esta última generación sobre la reconciliación y la justicia social. Somos los líderes de la Cámara de Obis pos y la Cámara de Diputados y como tal, estamos llamados a través de la Resolución C019 a encabezar esta labor santa. Por tanto, debemos capacitar a cada diócesis, ministerio y persona bautizada en nuestra iglesia para vivir y ser testimonio de la enseñanza de Jesús de amar a Dios y al prójimo como a si mismo (Mateo 22:37-40), mediante el respeto a la dignidad de cada ser humano y con nuestro trabajo por transfor mar las estructuras injustas de la sociedad.

Para honrar ese llamado, nos reunimos el 3 y 4 de febrero en Austin, Texas, donde
compartimos nuestros regalos e historias, aprendimos un poco sobre las actividades históricas y actuales de la iglesia y comenzamos a discernir el camino a seguir. En vez de proceder con soluciones
rápidas o programas instantáneos, adoptamos dos prácticas esenciales: Escuchar profundamente las historias y comprometernos pacientemente a hacer una transformación mutua a largo plazo.

Hoy, escribimos para dar la bienvenida a hermanos y hermanas de ambas cámaras y de manera más amplia a todos los episcopales que se unen a nosotros en este ministerio. El dolor de la división y la injusticia racial ha destruido nuestra iglesia y las múltiples comunidades donde proclamamos y personificamos el evangelio de Jesucristo. Nuestras oraciones y acciones colectivas pueden comenzar a sanar lo que se ha desgarrado y a nutrir a la Amada Comunidad, lo cual es el sueño de Dios para todos.

En esta primera etapa, esperamos vernos en una o varias reuniones de toda la iglesia, donde muchas voces puedan compartir el tema de la justicia y reconciliación racial, dentro del cual se incluye una amplia gama de realidades raciales, étnicas y culturales que entran en juego en América Latina, Europa, Asia y muy profundamente en las comunidades indígenas de este continente. Asimismo le hemos pedido al personal del Obispo Primado que investigue opciones para lo siguiente:

  • Una reunión de escucha con socios anglicanos del Sur Global, en la cual se preste especial atención a los patrones de relaciones coloniales y neocoloniales
  • Vehículos a través de los cuales compartimos historias, desarrollamos relaciones y
    escuchamos al Otro
  • Oportunidades de información y formación – adaptada según la edad – cuyo fin sea
    desmantelar el racismo
  • Un resumen de los regalos y ministerios actuales de la iglesia relacionados con la
    reconciliación y la justicia social
  • Un censo o auditoría para alcanzar un entendimiento claro sobre la constitución
    demográfica y la participación actual e histórica de la iglesia en los sistemas de injusticia racial dentro de la iglesia.

Por favor únase a nosotros y dedique el resto de la santa temporada de Cuaresma a la oración, y pida a Dios que prepare los corazones para compartir y recibir las historias y verdades que más nos desafían personalmente. Únase a nosotros para buscar una transformación que perdure más allá de un trienio o incluso mas allá de los nueve años del término del Primado, más allá de sólo Estados Unidos y más allá de las nuevas políticas y declaraciones. Compartimos el deseo de nuestro Señor de lograr la metanoia
el cambio, el renacer como Iglesia comprometida con sus comportamientos, promesas y
relaciones que reflejen el amor de Aquél que nos llamó a todos a ser uno.

En el profundo amor de Cristo,
Obispo Primado Michael Curry
Presidenta de la Cámara de Diputados Gay Jennings
Vicepresidenta de la Cámara de Obispos Mary Gray-Reeves
Vicepresidente de la Cámara de Diputados Byron Rushing
Vicepresidente de la Cámara de Obispos Dean Wolfe
Secretario de la Cámara de Diputados MichaelBarlowe



Comments (6)

  1. Pamela Parson says:

    As a white person who has been actively working to dismantle racism for the past 30 years I applaud this move. However, this is tempered by the reality that many do not see this work as important nor do they see/understand that it requires on-going daily work. In my own Diocese a recent anti-racism event had few attendees because many said, “Oh, I already did that. I took one of the trainings or attended one of those events last year.” And furthermore, as a white person I am not encouraged, either by church or society to take any responsibility for the benefits I receive from being white. The Church, the White Church needs to model this. In addition, I did not grow up with white heroes. Anti-racist white people are not held up or celebrated. The Church needs to change this as well. This work is hard, deeply hard. I am grateful for those that paved the way for me and hope I am doing the same for those who are coming after me. I am encouraged by the Trinity 2016 conference and by this. Thanks be to God. I am praying for this effort.

  2. Steve Renco says:

    Time to move on and look forward, right? I believe we all have God’s Mercy and Forgiveness and Hope available to us. Wallowing in misery and victim-hood does no one any good, and is certainly not going to bring anyone into an Episcopal Church.

    1. Elaine Jenkins says:

      My experience in working in communities of color and listening to the stories of people of color is that discrimination is alive and well. They face difficulties every day as they live their lives that I, as a white woman cannot imagine in my life. One cannot move beyond something that is part of one’s every day life. Scripture is clear that we should not place stumbling blocks in front of others. I believe that this means we should also remove the ones that are all ready there. By demonstrating the love and will of God, we will be able to draw people into the Church.

  3. Carol johnston says:

    Hey Steve- We can stand against racism without wallowing in victim hood. Those of us who daily work to end racism are looking forward- looking forward to a society where black kids are not seen as older than they are, are not suspended from school for the same offenses that bring only a reprimand to a white person, looking forward to a world where black and white people are not afraid of each other. We are looking forward. We are not sweeping problems under the rug of forgetting.
    Surely you don’t mean to suggest that since God is merciful we can treat people how ever we want and our churches willagically fill with people? Surely you want to worship with people who understand your struggles, who weep when are hurting, and who are willing stand with you to achieve a better world?

  4. Cathy Parrill says:

    I am heartened to hear the intentionality to listen, tell and hear stories, and to come to understand the patterns of colonial and neocolonial relationship that still pervade so many of our interactions. Still today many of our programs in Haiti, for example, are built around “projects”, “programs”, or “problems and solutions.” When we start from this foundation, we are likely to enter into, and foster, relationships of inequality (in spite of our intentions to do otherwise!)

    In my opinion, in the past we have greatly misunderstood the ethic of service. We’ve seen it as a mandate to “do for others,” without understanding that unless we acknowledge our equal need for “others to do for us,” we are creating a relationship of inequality. We’ve addressed poverty as though its source is lack of money and/or resources, and that by supplying these resources, we can end poverty.

    But the heart of poverty goes deeper. At its core, I have come to believe, poverty is about lack of hope caused from not having a voice; not having power, self-determination, or choice. As a dear Haitian friend told me twenty years ago, “Whether the tyrant is dictator or benefactor–either way, I do not have hope because I do not have a choice in my future.”

    After twenty-six years of work in this area, I am firmly committed to the principle of building relationships first. Hearing and telling our stories. Discovering our own hidden assumptions or agendas. Allowing mindshifts to lead us out of old systems and into new relationships.
    Then we may be ready to undertake the sharing of our selves, our talents, our resources, and our needs in a way that lends dignity and equality to us all.

    “We adopted two essential practices: Deep listening to stories and…commitment to mutual transformation” are perhaps the most encouraging and hopeful words I’ve heard from the Episcopal Church in the last two decades. Thank you for making this commitment.

    1. Ronald Davin says:

      Let us also remember the sacrifice of 620,000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Civil War, it is time we expressed our gratitude to them instead of beating ourselves up for a sin we did not make.

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