Pastoral Letter, Post Charlottesville - 15 August 2017

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and peace be with you in Jesus, the Light for all people in the midst of the world’s darkness!

Like many of you, the events in Charlottesville this past Saturday have been shocking and disturbing for me.  It is troubling to imagine in 2017, that voices calling for the supremacy of the White race would be acknowledged much less supported.  In the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Book of Genesis, we affirm that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God.  In the Christian Scriptures, in the Gospel of John, we affirm that because God took on our flesh in Jesus, every human person is a beloved child of God.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to respect the dignity of every human being while at the same time striving for justice and peace among all people.  This striving calls us, in fact compels us, to name these actions of White Supremacy as sinful and to take action by standing in the midst of violence and hatred as witnesses for peace and reconciliation.

I have invited us, as Episcopalians in Northern Indiana, to adopt the Five Marks of Mission.  While each mark is important, I would invite you to reflect on the Fourth Mark of Mission at this time:  to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.  We are called as Disciples of the Risen Christ to engage in the difficult and risky work of advocating for transformation.  We are called to work for racial reconciliation and justice.  We are called to pursue peace.

Sisters and brothers, I invite you to pray for each other, especially for those who feel fearful, threatened or hopeless. As a visible sign, I also invite you to pray this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer 1979 for Social Justice with me: 

Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

I also invite you to act.  I invite you to look for opportunities within your families and households, in your neighborhoods and communities to engage in respectful conversations about race and racial reconciliation.

Let us strive to be ambassadors of God’s abiding love made known in Jesus and sustained and ever present in our world by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Every blessing,

Bishop Doug