16 March 2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and peace be with you in the Crucified and Risen Christ!
My hope is that during this Lenten Journey, you are being invited to deepen your life in prayer, in the reflection and study of God's Word and in works of charity. I have just returned from the annual March House of Bishops Meeting, which was held at the Kanuga Conference Center near Ashville, North Carolina.
The theme of our gathering was Reconciling Leaders: Bishops in the Jesus Movement. We are committed to following Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving relationships with God, with each other and with this fragile earth, our island home. In that context, we worked for three days in table conversations, listening to one another and learning skills to assist ourselves and the people in the dioceses we serve in our work of racial justice and reconciliation. This was intense and profound work, grounded in scripture study and common prayer. The Presiding Bishop's Canon for Evangelism, Racial Justice and Reconciliation and Creation Care, the Rev. Stephanie Spellers along with the Missioner for Racial Reconciliation, Heidi Kim, helped to frame our work within the Episcopal Church's vision recently adopted by the Executive Council. I have invited Missioner Heidi Kim to be our Convention Speaker in October. She is also going to begin working with our Racial Reconciliation Working Group.
At the end of each day, we gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry presided on the first day of our meeting and preached on the last day of our meeting. Other Bishops presided and preached each day and I was inspired by each of them. We had the opportunity as well for the Laying on of Hands and Anointing, for which I was most grateful.
It is the custom of the House of Bishops to assign each bishop to a class based on the year one is elected. On Saturday evening, our class went out to dinner. Many of our colleagues commented on how diverse a group the nine of us are: four men of color, three women (one of color) and two white men. I am thankful to be called to serve with these wonderful people in Episcopal ministry.
We had the opportunity to listen to our sister and brother Bishops who participated in the Standing as Stone Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral and March in Washington, D.C. on 10 March. We also received a presentation by the Rev. Mark Stevenson, the Director of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), on the current status of our work. EMM is one of only nine agencies that work with the Federal Government in resettling persons who are identified as refugees by the United Nations and Geneva Convention. I am so proud of the work of our church in this urgent ministry.
On Tuesday, we received updates on the preparations for the General Convention 2018 planned for Austin, Texas along with updates on various committees engaged in the various work between convention.
I so appreciate that the day to day life of so many of you is connected to the immediate context of your neighborhoods and communities, which is where your energies and efforts to engage God's mission should be. I'd also like you to know that we have brothers and sisters throughout the church who care about the ways WE are engaged in God's mission in the Episcopal Church in Northern Indiana.
This comes with a brother's love and blessing!
“I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me. Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.” Matthew 25:42-45
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and peace be with you in Jesus, the unwelcomed stranger!
I am writing to remind us of our moral responsibility, as Disciples of Jesus, to welcome the stranger. In light of the recent Executive Action taken by President Trump, it is especially important to remember that our sisters and brothers seeking asylum from violence and persecution, not of their making, look to us for protection and safety. The crisis in Syria and the surrounding region is horrific and complicated.
However, in the midst of this legal and global complexity, our responsibility to care for the innocent, especially the most vulnerable children, abides!
This is an invitation to take some kind of intentional action on behalf of these refugees and the scores of others who are affected by our country’s action. Gather with others in your town or city during a time of public witness. Reach out to a neighbor you don’t know and engage in a respectful conversation. Visit a mosque or Islamic Center near you. Write or call your representative or senator. Talk with the children and be a good witness. They are watching.
In concluding, I ask you to intercede with unceasing prayer.
- Pray for any unwelcomed stranger.
- Pray for those in authority in our nation: the President, the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court, as well as all state and local leaders whom we put our trust in to make fair and equitable decisions for the good of our nation and the world.
- Pray for those individuals in nations deemed a threat to us.
- Pray for every citizen in our nation during these troubled times.
When you pray, remember the last two questions in the Baptismal Covenant. Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Be assured of my prayer for each of you,
Serving as 8th Bishop of Northern Indiana