In the crush of legislation, some worthy proposals get overlooked. Deputy News asked several deputies and alternate deputies to tell us what potentially low-profile initiatives they hope don’t get lost at this General Convention.
Crystal Plummer, a lay deputy from the Diocese of Chicago is the diocese’s interim director of networking. She writes:
At General Convention I will be following closely the work of Committee 9, Racial Justice and Reconciliation, particularly the legislation related to Becoming Beloved Community, racial healing and racial reconciliation.
I read with interest the Blue Book reports of the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism and the Officers Group Charged with Response to Racial Injustice. Much effort has gone into assessing our current state and evaluating work that has been completed. The committee is raising the bar for future racial reconciliation work and shifting the emphasis from programming to training. The officers group has made progress defining and making their way through the Becoming Beloved Community framework. Both groups have set a firm foundation and defined a clear way forward. The eight resolutions assigned to Committee 9 so far support that work.
The times in which we find ourselves make the work of racial healing and reconciliation even more important. It is evident that we have not overcome the sin of racism in the United States as our government is persecuting yet another group of people who need our help using warped theology and a veil of patriotism to justify their actions.
Racism is in the DNA, structures and systems of our society. It’s like a nine-headed hydra, and we must never tire of fighting it. Racism is in direct opposition of Christ’s teachings to love one another as he loves us. It is contrary to the Episcopal Church’s mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The church is called to lead the way toward racial reconciliation and transformation for not only Episcopalians but for our country.
I endorsed Resolution 2018-D002-Funding the Work of The Beloved Community because I want to see racial healing and reconciliation in every corner of our church, and a lack of funds should not be a barrier to any congregation’s or community’s ability to do the work.
The Rev. David Sibley, an alternate deputy from the Diocese of Long Island, is rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Manhasset, New York. He writes:
Now more than ever, I’m convinced that this world needs more disciples of Jesus. It only takes a glance at the headlines to see that we need more people who boldly live their commitment to love their God and love their neighbor.
Last convention, the House of Deputies led the way in committing the Episcopal Church to making new disciples by allocating $3.4 million to new church plants, mission enterprise zones, and ministry development. The investment has not been wasted. During the 2016-18 triennium, the Episcopal Church has partnered with dioceses to plant 21 new church starts (over of half which center their ministry in Latinx or multi-ethnic communities) and 22 new mission enterprise zones (almost all of which minister to populations underrepresented in our church). We offered continued funding for 10 ministries started in the previous triennium and assisted in the discernment for other unique new ministries. Church planters are for the first time receiving the ongoing coaching that statistics show are critical to the success of their work. These ministries are making new disciples who already have an impact not only in our church, but in the world around us. As new growth comes to the fore, now is not the time for us to step back from our commitment to evangelism and church planting – it’s time to double down.
In a convention where many important matters will be decided, I pray that we will not retreat from our commitment to evangelism and church planting and will continue to be bold in supporting and funding this work. This moment is not a time for us to be shy about the Good News of Jesus; it is a time to proclaim it boldly. At General Convention, it can become very easy for us to be fixated on the “insider baseball” of church life. But at the end of the day, people beyond the church are hungry for the deep love, the abiding peace, and the transformative justice that only a relationship with God can give.
Now more than ever, this world needs to see more faithful Christians committed to their baptismal covenant: to the confession of their faith in Jesus Christ, and to their real actions in the world to work for God’s reign with God’s help. Recommitting to church planting and evangelism would do just that. What witness will we make?
Rose H. Sconiers, a deputy from Western New York, is a retired judge of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division. She writes:
“All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the
ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18
As we gather for our 79th General Convention, there will be many resolutions on which we will agree, and others on which we will disagree. The task before us will be to find common ground around those issues wherever and whenever we can.
Looking back at our history and forward toward becoming “The Beloved Community,” we can find common ground by discovering the power of love. Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry stated it this way at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, “There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live.”
It is also stated in the First Letter of John, Chapter 4, verses 7 & 8:
“Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is from God;
Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God,
For God is love.”
One resolution that might generate some discussion calls for eliminating the use of the term “anti-racism.” One school of thought is that racial reconciliation cannot occur until one has successfully addressed the racism inherent in the church and in the world. Therefore, maintaining the term “anti-racism” has significant value. The other school of thought is that the term anti-racism speaks of being against racism rather than expressing the outcome that those who work to dismantle racism are seeking.
If we are to become “The Beloved Community”, the church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation and justice, we must find common ground around the use of the term “anti-racism” as well as the work we do.
Beneath all the differences of terms and concepts, we are one family and we must love one another. We are the family of Christ and the common ground is love!