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From The Rev. Matt Lincoln: Reintroducing the Pledge of Faith and Action against Racial Injustice

 

 

Dear Colleagues in Christ,

Many of us are searching for ways to approach our society’s persistence of racism and violence with our congregations. We are horrified by the evil of another mass shooting, this time at a Texas elementary school. While that shooter’s motive remains unclear, we know the shooter in Buffalo was motivated by deep racial hatred.

I write today on behalf of Bishop Sean and The Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination to announce that the Commission is reintroducing The Pledge of Faith and Action against Racial Injustice as a resource you can use to open conversation. We have created a video and are sharing it with you first, before sending it to the Partnership e-newsletter for wider circulation. The video can be accessed here.

We invite you to present the Pledge to your vestries for affirmation before sharing it with your congregants and to consider ways to support the Pledge through congregational ministries of learning, prayer and action. The Pledge of Faith and Action against Racial Injustice, itself, is intended as a personal commitment and as a way to inspire your congregation to pray and discern what more can be done.

None of us can do this in isolation;  the Commission is here to help. The Pledge is accompanied by a brief resource list and action overview with options on the individual and congregational levels.  That document is available here.

To support parishes affirming the Pledge:

  • We have scheduled two Q&A zoom sessions for the sharing of ideas and experience to be held from 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8 and again Tuesday, June 14.  Hopefully one will work for you.  Email communications@episcopalpartnership.org for the Zoom link.
  • We are making available 4×6” Pledge cards for distribution to your membership. The cards display the pledge on one side and the words, Learn-Pray-Act, with the Episcopal shield on the other. To request cards, contact the Rev. Stacey Fussell in NWPA or the Rev. Diana Leiker in WNY.
  • We commissioned a visual poster with the words, “Lift Up Your Hearts,” for display in your office or parish hall. The poster is designed to be thought-provoking and to remind us we are all God’s children, made in his image. To request a poster, contact the Rev. Stacey Fussell in NWPA or the Rev. Diana Leiker in WNY. Download the image.
  • Coming this summer, we will be opening up training for Racial Healing Circles, a story sharing conversational program. Look for more details to be forthcoming.

We suggests beginning where you are. Start slowly, simply with one or two others, and gain perspective through learning, prayer and action. Explore the resource list and find something that works for you or use these as a jumping off point to create pathways that fit your congregation and community. What’s important is to begin, be guided by love, and see what is revealed. We offer a few simple ideas below and we will be reaching out to learn from you in the months ahead. Consider:

  • Including prayers to dismantle racism in worship services. Broach the topic in a sermon or homily. The Episcopal Church offers a page of resources for Proclamation and Prayer on its website.
  • Starting the conversation. The Pledge offers an opening to bring this ministry up with Wardens, Vestry members and other parish leaders.  Individuals will ask you about what they could do to fulfill the Pledge. Our poster, “Lift Up Your Hearts,” is intentionally designed to provoke reflection and conversation.
  • Reading Bishop Curry’s, “Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubled Times” as a group. Discuss how his stories are similar and diverse from your own and how his experiences are relevant in your lives and that of your parish. He offers both reflections on agape love as well as witness to his life’s experience as an African American.
  • Reaching out to build relationships and collaborate with diverse parishes or community groups. Explore pulpit swaps, informal coffee hours which might be easier in zoom times, work with other faith groups to form a ministerium. Individuals can get involved with community groups working to dismantle racism and bring another parish member along.

In closing, I want to thank you for the sending in liaison names for the Becoming Beloved Community Conversations scheduled for September. Liaison orientation has been scheduled via zoom with two options:  June 22 and July 12. These will be evening sessions, no more than an hour and a half. We’ll be sending out invitations closer to the dates and of course, we hope you will participate along with the liaisons from your congregations. These will be opportunities for collaboration and networking.

To be sure, the goal of dismantling racism is a daunting one. Racism is so complex and historically rooted. But dismantling it starts with realizing that we want to love others as God has loved us. It’s a form of loving our neighbors as ourselves, and we’ve been practicing that for a long time.

Blessings,

 

 

(The Rev.) Matt Lincoln
Chair, Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination