Racial Justice & Reconciliation
Dear friends and members of St. Matt's,
On Sunday, our Gospel passage will bring us a message about what it means to be a community that belongs to God in the time of struggle. We will hear the apostle Paul talk about how all of creation is groaning, waiting for God's dream of peace and justice to become our reality. And we will hear God promise Jacob land, prosperity, and legacy because of the covenant God makes with God's people. Three lessons filled with good news - and with challenge. They're fitting for this moment in which we find ourselves.
It's hard to miss the signs of struggle around us. We are bearing witness to many different kinds of struggle in this moment - not just here, but around the world. Those signs and struggles should lead us to wonder about our work as Christians, and specifically about the work that God is calling us to at St. Matt's. How do we tend to - and build up - our corner of God's kingdom?
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you and asked you to purchase and begin reading two books: Waking Up White by Debby Irving and Stand Your Ground by the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas. Today, I'm pleased to write to you to invite you to join in study and reflection with your community, to join in conversations, to ask questions, to do the hard internal work of self-examination. I'm also pleased to share with you some extra resources and opportunities for families curated by Samantha, with gratitude to Kim & Lydia Hall for their help and participation. All of these dates and resources can be found here.
This is a beginning. In the month of August, we will look at racial injustice together as a community. While we have talked about this in some small ways before, this is a larger beginning to meaningful work. Each of us will come to this work from a different place, with different experiences and different levels of learning. So, it's important that we find a common place to begin. I've asked you to read Waking Up White because it's an accessible look at some of the history of systemic racism in this country. And I've asked you to read Stand Your Ground because it takes an even deeper dive, it's a challenging read, and it sets this work of racial reconciliation within the bounds of our faith. It's particularly important for those of us with privilege (so if you're white like me) to do the work of learning and reflection before we rush to act. Before we can think about what comes next, we first have to look at the problem - to really see it - to understand how widespread, how systemic, how insidious the sin of racism is. So, I hope that you will take a look at the dates and mark your calendars. I know that some of you are traveling in August and won't be able to join us for everything - that's okay. Come when you can, join in when you can. And know this is only the beginning of the conversation.
Ultimately, my hope is that we will find a common place to begin. A place to start as a community. After these initial conversations, I hope a group of parishioners will emerge who have a passion and a desire to continue to work with me on discerning next steps for the parish. I have some ideas about what that should include, and it's important to me that you take a leadership role as we examine our life together and discern how God is calling us to act in the world around us.
I'm delighted that the Rev. Don Hamer will be a companion for us as we undertake this work together. Don was Rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford for many years. He and I are both part of the Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation Ministry Network in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Don will join us for worship on Sunday, August 2nd and will preach an invitation into this holy work for our whole community. You will appreciate his gifts and his faithfulness, and we will benefit from his own passion for justice.
While I hope you'll see this as an invitation, I recognize that I'm inviting you into hard work. Good and holy work; hard work, too. Know that you can come talk with me about this work and about what it's bringing up in you at any time. I'm happy to set up a phone call or a Zoom room so that we can connect. And know that this is the work to which Jesus calls us. It is the work of love. And the work of justice. And we will love each other as we learn to love the world around us more fully in word and in action.
There are signs all around us - signs of struggle, signs of sadness, signs of pain - and what the Gospel on Sunday will call the causes of sin. As Christians, we are called to live in the midst of all this in a way that creates community, builds justice, and inspires love. I look forward to living more and more fully into that call with you.
Tags: Welcome from the Rector