Dear Church family,
I am going to admit, this letter has been crafted more than once. With each sentence written, I continued to hit delete...it’s not strong enough, or courageous enough. Why do I struggle? Maybe it is because there are not enough words? Or that my words are clumsy. My words seem shallow. My words fail me.
If the tensions have not been high enough walking through the unknown season of Covid-19, we are in the second week of protest over the extreme pain and heartbreak after the killing of George Floyd. The death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky…the list of lives lost never seems to end. Another painful and dark chapter in a book that has been written over and over again.
I have been in a state of grief for months now. It started as grief over this pandemic, but the grief has only grown and become unbearable as I watch and read posts of cries for help from our sisters and brothers in Christ. There was a moment as I watched the footage of the police officer with his knee pressed into George Floyd’s neck that I looked away in disbelief and began to turn off the television. It is too much to watch, I thought, I can’t handle this. But I stopped myself... No Jenn, you can’t look away. Looking away perpetuates the cycle, the people living it do not get to turn it off. We cannot keep avoiding what is happening around us. As Audre Lorde has written, “The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”
Bishop Gregory Palmer sent out a notice to our Annual Conference this weekend. It reads, in part:
I have been in many calls and interactions this week about the killing of George Floyd. I have listened to confession and been the recipient of wonderful words of love, gratitude, and grace as have many others. I am grateful. I have also fielded many an inquiry or sensed an expectation for me to say or do something that helps others to find direction and their voice. I am honored. But I want to take this opportunity to remind you that the question is less about what I (one voice) am going to do and more about what you and we are going to do.
Every baptized Christian already has the authority to act like, walk like, talk like a disciple of Jesus the Christ. I will speak, lead and guide in ways that help to aggregate voice and impact of our witness but right now you are salt, light and yeast if you choose to be. So how will you incarnate the love and power of the Risen Christ in all the places where you live your life? Let me be clearer. Are you prepared to challenge racism and supremacy in all the places you see, here and experience it? It is more rife than what may finally make into the news cycle. It is historic, accumulated, systemic institutional, and personal. It is everywhere all the time. Lord help us to see, hear, act.
Read that again. Every baptized Christian already has the authority to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Church we can be the salt, light, and yeast if we choose to be. So how will you incarnate the love and power of the Risen Christ in all the places where you live your life?
How are you going to listen? Where are you going to act?
A few options available for you right now at Church of the Saviour:
Sunday, June 7, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, our church will participate in a self-guided prayer walk. There is a link on our website for you to sign up. Let us allow for our church to be a light in the darkness. Prayer has power to move mountains, tear down walls, and open up our souls to hope.
Beginning next Wednesday, June 10 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm, Pastor Vicki Robinson will be hosting an adult discussion group via zoom. She will facilitate a 6-week book study discussion on "White Fragility: Why it is so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" by Robin DiAngelo. Email Pastor Vicki if you are interested in joining the group - firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be more options available to you in the coming days and weeks. This conversation, and our commitment to it, is just beginning.
I want you to hear me say plainly, I do not have the answer for how to stop racism or tear down the long standing walls of prejudice and injustice that has been around longer than any of us; but I do know I am committed to learning. I am committed to listening. I am committed to having dialogue, because even if we disagree, you are a child of God and I love you.
As this news cycle ends, and the world moves on to yet another story that sparks our passions and interest: CHURCH, we are going to continue the conversation. I hope you are ready to journey with me. It is too important. We can’t waste this crisis, but rather see it as an opportunity to continue listening, learning and being honest in conversation.
St. Francis of Assisi once said, “All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.” Church, our light is needed. We have to be willing to be uncomfortable and have honest and open dialogue with all our brothers and sisters. We must be willing to listen. We need to see each day as a gift and a new opportunity to share Christ light – Christ love in the world. Hate has no place in our hearts... Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John13:4-35)
I love you church! I am proud of our church! Go be the church!
In Christian Love,
To read Bishop Palmers letter in full: