9 July 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and peace be with you in God our Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of Life!
The horrific and tragic events of this past week have rocked us to our core. In Louisiana, Minnesota and then in Dallas, Texas, the killings at the hands of others have been shocking, heartbreaking and beyond comprehension. Many of us are numb and yet filled with raw emotions, wondering what we can do, how to navigate this tangled web of violence tied to so many issues and where to begin with healing the pain.
Immediately, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry called us to a time of prayer for those who were killed, those who grieve over these deaths, those who place their lives at risk to protect us and for the sake of others...indeed, he has invited us to pray for our nation that we may recognize each other as beloved Children of God, made in God's image and likeness...every one of us!
Personally, I am so often led in prayer to The Baptismal Covenant ... to those five questions acting on our affirmation of faith. Please reflect on these in your prayer:
Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? In order for us to work for peace through justice, we must be sustained in intentional and communal reflection on God's word. We must remain in community, nourished by the sacrificial gift of Christ's Body and Blood as we are sent out to do the work God has given us to do.
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? In order for us to work for peace through justice, many of us must recognize our privilege and repent of our complicity in the sin of racism.
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? In order for us to work for peace through justice, we must stand with others who call for action on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. We must take a risk to be associated with those who have no voice or power in the face of violence.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? In order for us to work for peace through justice, we must seek out and serve Christ in all persons, loving our Muslim neighbors, our indigenous neighbors, our LGBTQ neighbors...all our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being? In order for us to work for peace through justice, our striving needs to include intentional conversations with our neighbors about gun violence, abuse of power, fear of those who differ from us, white privilege and racism.
On the Walkabout in January, I shared with you my desire to move us into a time of Deep Listening. This is what we need to do for each other now and I pray our faith communities in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana can have respectful conversations.
Several years ago, I participated in an ecumenical training developed by the Minnesota Council of Churches focused on engaging in RESPECTFUL CONVERSATIONS. This is what Presiding Bishop Curry is encouraging our nation to do, as we address these painful manifestations of violence.
I would like to invite all of us in the Episcopal Church in Northern Indiana, along with our neighbors, to engage in RESPECTFUL CONVERSATIONS around gun violence, hatred, fear of those who differ from us, suspicion, misjudgment of law enforcement, white privilege, abuse of power and racism.
To that end, I will ask the deans of our three regions to work with me and our lay leaders to provide a process and several venues for these conversations.
Finally, I leave you with the prayer Bishop Curry referred to, The Prayer for the Human Family, found in the Book of Common Prayer, page 815.
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.
Let us continue to work for peace through justice!
Serving as Bishop of Northern Indiana