THE BISHOPâ€™S COLUMN | PERSPECTIBES | PROFILES
The Texas Episcopalian
TOWARDS A BELOVED COMMUNITY: FACING RACISM page 08
Diolog: The Texas Episcopalian (since 1874) is an official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Our mission is to bring you the wealth of stories from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, to inform and inspire you and to deepen your spiritual life. PUBLISHER:
The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle
EDITOR: Carol E. Barnwell, firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGNER:
LaShane K. Eaglin, email@example.com
Diolog: The Texas Episcopalian (PE# USPS 10965, ISSN# 1074-441X) is published quarterly (March, June, September and December) for $25 a year by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, 1225 Texas St., Houston, TX 77002-3504. Periodical postage paid at Houston, TX. Address changes may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org POSTMASTER: Address changes: Diolog: The Texas
Episcopalian, 1225 Texas St., Houston, TX 77002-3504 Â© 2015 The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Member of: Episcopal Communicators and Associated Church Press
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
In This Issue: 04 EDITOR’S LETTER Carol E. Barnwell
06 FACING RACING A series of articles looks at our Christian call to face, and help rid society of, racism.
Jesus Christ Liberator, 05
TOWARDS A BELOVED COMMUNITY 06 Bishop’s Column 08 Fighting an Unholy Trinity of Racism, Poverty and Violence 10 We Are All Held Captive by Racism 13 Racism by the Numbers 14 OH! That Awful Sin of racism. 16 Crossing the Racial Divide: Sharing Untold Stories Can Open Doors to Healing 19 Sowing Holy Questions on Race 20 We Are Called to Love, Truth and Justice 22 Made for Goodness: An Invitation 26 Caution: Falling Icons Ahead 27 Conversations Seek to Broaden Perspective
29 HISTORIC ELECTION “We are members of the Jesus Movement,” said the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, following his election as the Episcopal Church’s new presiding bishop. He will take office November 1. Cover and Inside Cover Photo: Icon by Br. Robert Lentz
Luminary, Presiding Bishop-elect Curry page 29 The Arts, Barbara Goodson page 32 Advocate, Mentoring page 34 Congregation, Christ Church, Nacogdoches page 36 38 CALENDAR & PEOPLE
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EDITOR’S LETTER We will never really confront racism if we continue to view it as an “issue,” says the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis. In his blog post following Sandra Bland’s death July 12 in a Waller, Texas jail, Kinman challenged those with privilege and power to make racism “personal” in order to effect real change. “We don’t lay our lives down for ideas … we lay our lives down for each other,” Kinman said. (See Dean Kinman’s
I grew up on Army posts around the world. There were always students of every color in my classes and living next door. Yet, I have internalized much of what our society proffers about race. Several months ago, I was walking my dog in my admittedly monochromatic neighborhood, and for an instant—a very brief instant—I wondered what the black guy was doing on the porch of a particularly nice home around the corner. I’m grateful for a more diverse neighborhood, but that instant reaction, however brief, weighs heavily on me. And I am certain that Sandra Bland should not be dead and buried after being pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. In the Charlie Rose interview, Morrison said, “People, not ones who are examining their attitudes, but who practice racism, are bereft … [Racism] has just as much a deleterious effect on white people as it does on black people … if you can only be tall because someone is on their knees, you have a serious problem.”
article on page 10.) Anne Brayden (July 28, 1924 – March 6, 2006), an American advocate of racial equality, wrote that “[racism] is not something that we’re called on to help people of color with. We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because really, in truth, they do.” Author Toni Morrison told PBS’s Charlie Rose in a 2014 interview: “There is only one race, the human race.” Morrison has examined and challenged systemic racism throughout her career. In her writing and in her interviews, she consistently turns racism around, asking white people, “What are you going to do about ending it?” Each of us—black, white or brown—has a personal responsibility to examine how racism exists in our daily lives. Those who have grown up with more privilege than others have an even greater responsibility to take a closer look.
Phyllis Unterschuetz, an author and storyteller, wrote a book with her husband, Eugene, about trying to understand their hidden fears and prejudices, and ultimately to find an authentic connection with African-Americans. Her YouTube video shows how the fear and suspicion that both African-Americans and whites still harbor toward one another continue to put up barriers to a more beloved and whole community. It’s worth watching: tinyurl.com/ alessoninprivilege
“What are you going to do about ending it?” The topic of racism is not an easy conversation. After the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney and eight others killed in the shooting at Mother Emanuel in Charleston; after Sandra Bland’s death in a Waller County jail, we can wait no longer to begin the conversation. How do we—as Christians—help our society reflect a more beloved community?
We are called to be a beloved community in Christ’s image. There is work to do still. And as Dean Kinman said, “It has to be personal.” Please read the series of articles that follow, even if you don’t feel they pertain to you. Find a place to begin a conversation with your family, your friends, your church. And, as always thank you for reading the Diolog. Share it with a friend, invite them into a holy conversation and invite them to church with you. Blessings, Carol E. Barnwell
Jesus Christ Liberator by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM ON THE COVER: When Br. Robert Lentz was asked to create an icon of Christ as an African-American in 1983, he at first refused because of his Orthodox training. The insistence of the man who asked him, however, led him to a prayerful wrestling with Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection, other texts from the New Testament, and examples from lives of the saints. Only when he felt he had found sufficient theological justification for the icon did he paint it. Many Christians of African descent have embraced the icon
© Jesus Christ: Liberator, Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, Courtesy of Trinity Stores, trinitystores.com, 800.699.4482. ]
identified with the poor and oppressed of the world. The lives of the
in the past 35 years, because they have found in it a
saints abound with stories about how Christ appeared as a beggar or a
reflection of their own experience of Christ.
sick person in need. Christ has suffered in the Black members of His
The Greek letters in the cross in Christ’s halo are the divine name revealed to Moses in the burning
Mystical Body for many centuries—slavery, exploitation, prejudice and racial violence.
bush: “I am who am.” The inscriptions in the upper corners of the icon are Greek abbreviations for “Jesus Christ.” Christ wears the traditional Greek garments of icons, whether they are from Russia, Syria or Ethiopia, but now they have African colors: burnt orange of the Maasai and white of the Saharan peoples. Like most African men, He wears necklaces. The justification for this icon lies in the text Christ holds (Matthew 25:31-46). “When did we see you…?” those on Christ’s left will ask him at the Last Judgement. The text reminds us that Christ
Watch a video about the icon with Brother Lentz at robertlentz.com.
WE ARE CALLED TO BECOME THE BELOVED COMMUNITY
by the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle
God claims every person, every tribe and people as his beloved. Over the last year, racial tensions have escalated across the United States and focused us, once again, on the work we must do to bring about God’s beloved community. Our diocesan vision and mission is to proclaim that we are one church reconciled by Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called by God through worship, witness, and ministry, to build the Kingdom of God together. This means that we, as followers of Christ Jesus, are to be at the forefront of God’s ministry of reconciliation and in particular, racial reconciliation. We believe and proclaim that God sees no difference within our one human family, but, we must admit that this family is broken. I ask each of us to look closely at our inherited beliefs around racism in order that we might take action, individually and corporately, to create a more true reflection of the community God calls us to be. Racism is a sin for which we must seek forgiveness and amend our lives. We know that God saves us all and only when we face racism in our midst, honestly and boldly, can we experience fully God’s saving grace. This is hard work, but there can be no muted or half-hearted response, even though some among us may not feel the need to engage in this work. Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Most of the time, it’s a very significant holding back. In other words it’s not reconciliation, it’s learning more or less to scrape along with each other, rather than [learning how] to love each other and be reconciled to each other.” (November 19, 2014) Welby’s words encourage us to engage one another, to be a reconciling community to each other and thus a reconciling influence in our congregations and our broader communities. Welby said the “only genuine, complete reconciliation” is “one between ourselves and God by Jesus Christ. That’s the only reconciliation in which the very depths of our hearts and beings are transformed by the action of God, through a God who himself reaches out to us in absolute grace.”
When members of the community speak up and say that their neighbors need to pay attention to the pain and suffering they experience, a beloved community pays attention. A beloved community listens and then responds. A beloved community seeks to be God’s family beyond the racial brokenness between the colors and ethnicities found on Earth. One cannot grow up in this country, or in Texas, without being impacted and formed by racial division and our history. We have lacked the full story about racial tension and relationships in the media and in our educational settings. We lack multiple perspectives and we lack a diversity of heroes to broaden our views. This means that I am at a loss. I have to be a listener, a learner and a supporter of the voices not often heard. As Christians, we are called to actively confront this racial illiteracy. Moving toward a beloved community means encouraging one another to hear, experience and work with people who are different from ourselves. “We have organized society to … reinforce our racial interests and perspectives,” said Dr. Robin Diangelo. “…We move through a wholly racialized world with an unracialized identity (e.g., white people can represent all of humanity, people of color can only represent their racial selves).” (Salon: White America’s racial illiteracy: Why our national conversation is poisoned from the start, April 10, 2015) I encourage you to read and consider deeply the articles in this issue of the Diolog, and to imagine what you might do personally, and as a congregation in your community, to begin a holy conversation, to listen attentively to the voices you have not heard before, and to become an agent of positive change. With diversity, the community becomes stronger. At each congregation and across the Diocese, our mission is strengthened as we embrace our diversity and our knowledge of one another deepens. Engaging difference honestly is where the beloved community discovers, not only authenticity, but also true compassion for one other.
Photo: The Door of No Return in the house of slaves Goree Island, Senegal, a memorial to the Atlanic Slave Trade.
Sermons on Racism by the Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher, Bishop Suffragan of Texas
SPEAKING TRUTH WITH JON STEWART tinyurl.com/jonstewarttruth WHAT SHALL I CRY? tinyurl.com/whatshallicry
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A protester demonstrates against the New York City grand jury decision not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of unarmed Eric Garner, in Oakland, California December 3, 2014. Pantaleo killed Garner with a chokehold which sparked outrage and protests.
A BELOVED COMMUNITY
FIGHTING AN UNHOLY TRINITY OF RACISM POVERTY AND VIOLENCE We Get to Get Better by the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
On April 27 of this year, I witnessed We need to talk about race. Why? “EACH OF many parts of my city of Baltimore Because, much to the dismay and go up in flames. Righteous anger— THOSE BLACK over the death of Freddie Gray, an shame of so many Americans of LIVES MATTERED—IF unarmed black male who died in goodwill for several generations, police custody—turned destructive NOT TO ALL OF US, our society appears to be coming and fueled a full-scale riot. Stores THEN AT LEAST TO were looted, schools were closed, apart at the seams of some very GOD” and an official state of emergency sent deep racial divides. As a black the city into despair. What wasn’t in the news was that many of our citizens have been man, who is also a diocesan bishop in living in an unofficial state of despair for far too the Episcopal Church, I’ve seen how racial long. The cause is what I call the “unholy trinity of evils”—racism, poverty and violence. This “unholy” stereotypes, bigotry and the inability to “walk trinity has erased hope and drained the life out of in another’s shoes” have hurt our church, our people and whole communities. nation and our communities. Do all lives really matter? When we allow racism
Photo: Stephen Lam, REUTERS
There were lynchings and Jim Crow segregation, and despite Civil Rights era campaigns for justice, to this day, racism has been sown into the very fabric of our society. to go unchecked, poverty to fester for generations, and violence to run rampant by both criminals and police departments, how can we say that our society values every life?
14 neighborhoods in Baltimore have a lower life expectancy than that of North Korea. Four of those communities have a lower life expectancy than the people currently living through a civil war in Syria! There are gaps between the “haves” and the “have nots” in all cities and towns, but the gap between rich and poor in my city is one of the largest in America— twice that of New York City. Rage over this kind of abject poverty can’t be covered over by glittering condo towers, vibrant nightlife and the gentrification of downtown. We in Baltimore weren’t surprised that a riot erupted this year; we were only surprised that it didn’t happen sooner.
The good news is that we get to get better. Just like the disciples did in the Bible, we can actually improve over time. And we are getting better as a nation and In the past four years alone, there have as a church. People of goodwill of all races been more than 30 documented cases across our nation are outraged that black of unarmed African-American men and lives still seem to matter less than other women who’ve been shot and killed by lives in our communities. In spite of our police officers or security guards. In each weariness of still dealing with race issues of those cases, why was the choice made that should have been put behind us long to point a gun at, and shoot, an unarmed ago, I’m gratified that so many of my citizen? Why do we consistently feel fellow Episcopalians are willing to have that grabbing a firearm is the preferred the difficult conversations about racism, solution to a perceived problem? Each of do the work of justice, work to eradicate those black lives mattered—if not to all of poverty and violence, and to seek us, then at least to God—and all of them reconciliation within their communities. deserved to have the preservation of their Grinding poverty breeds a culture I am heartened when I see my white life valued in our society. of violence. We all know the tragic brothers and sisters hold up signs at situation of black-on-black violence in the rallies and other public events that say, The truth is that our nation has struggled with granting dignity to persons economic and political cages often called “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” “inner-city ghettos.” There is reason to of color since its inception. The 1787 In the Episcopal Church, each time be afraid of some of the neighbors in Constitutional “Three-fifths Compromise” we renew our baptismal vows the presider many of our communities. But when meant a black person was counted as 3/5 asks, “Will you strive for justice and peace the police—the very people who are of a human being. There were lynchings among all people, and respect the dignity supposed to protect us from predators and Jim Crow segregation, and despite of every human being?” To which the roaming our streets—are themselves the Civil Rights era campaigns for justice, to people respond, “I will, with God’s help.” ones who are killing our folks—then that this day, racism has been sown into the (BCP, p. 294) gives rise to rage. very fabric of our society. Social scientists As a Church we took another major have published numerous studies over When most law-abiding Episcopalians step toward living into those vows the last 60 years that reveal continued see a police car they feel a sense of when we voted overwhelmingly at our racial stereotypes and unconscious security. When I see a police car, this General Convention in July to commit projections that blacks (especially black Episcopal bishop immediately feels time, considerable resources and males) are essentially criminally inclined, vulnerable and experiences a sense ourselves to combat the sin of racism in beastly aggressive, and lack fundamental of danger—especially if there are no a very significant way during this next intellectual and social qualities that other people around. That’s not the only triennium. merit human dignity. Even with the thing that reflects a severe divergence Let’s show the world that real progress we’ve made in combatting of attitudes between races. More than Episcopalians really do believe that all racism in our society, we still have a long our political affiliation, our educational lives matter. way to go. achievement or our religion, studies Sutton is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of indicate that the color of our skin is a Racism fueled by poverty results in Maryland. bigger factor in how we each view the violence. According to the latest census, state of racism, poverty and violence in Diolog
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A BELOVED COMMUNITY Ed. note: Read Dean Kinman’s blog post, “Hearing Sandra Bland—It has to be personal,” at cccdean.blogspot.com.
WE ARE ALL HELD CAPTIVE BY RACISM by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman When I woke up on August 9, 2014, I had no idea my life was about to change forever. Usually, that’s the way it works. At about 12:30 p.m., my Twitter exploded with tweets and pictures of a young man lying shot to death in the street. It happened about 15 minutes from my house in a neighborhood I’d never even driven through in my 18 years in St. Louis. At six the next morning, the Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant and fellow Magdalene St. Louis board member, called and asked me to be at the Ferguson Police Department that afternoon for a prayer vigil. I have never been the same since … and a year from now I hope I will look back at the person I am now writing this and realize I’m different from that. And thank God. I used to think when Jesus read from the scroll about releasing the captives he was talking about setting a few prisoners free. That sounded great. That fit into my privileged schema that I was in control and I could choose to grace others with my generosity and help them out. But that’s not who Jesus is. Jesus is incarnation. Jesus is revolutionary. And this year, I have begun to learn and grow in relationship with the Revolutionary Jesus. And he is terrifying. And he is life. And he walks the way of the cross.
And he bids me follow him. He bids us all. As a white, male, educated, straight American, I have more privilege than 99% of the world’s population but because privilege is like the air I breathe it is hard for me to see and easy for me to take for granted. I was asked to write a piece as a white person to white people about “Why should white, privileged people care enough to really do anything to change their behavior about race and privilege?” It’s the “what’s in it for me?” question. The “what’s in it for me” question is where the American church runs off the rails. Because if we are to follow Jesus, what is in it for us is never what our society values—more power, more stuff, more fun. If we are to follow Jesus, what is in it for us is the way of the cross—it is all things being counted as loss (Philippians 3:8). But Paul doesn’t end the sentence there. He says: “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” What’s in it for me? Knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. And so this year, I was drawn into neighborhoods where I’d never been. I was challenged to speak openly about white privilege and white supremacy and police violence among
The Very Rev. Dean Kinman (pictured far left) gathered with clergy and others September 30, 2014, in a peaceful protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department following the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was fatally shot and killed, August 9, 2014 by Darren Wilson, 28, a Ferguson police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.
people who took those words as shaming and attacking, even though that was not my intent. I was challenged to realize that letting the oppressed go free takes standing with the oppressed and willing to be counted among them. And when I, imperfectly, haltingly, tried to do these things … I met Jesus. I met Jesus in the black clergy, like Traci, who have been pastoring their underserved and oppressed communities with a fraction of the resources I have—many of them working second jobs all the time. I met Jesus in Brittany, Alexis, Ashley, Netta, DeRay and so many other young activists—many of them women, many of them LGBTQ, who literally put themselves in harm’s way and suffered tear gas and arrest and rubber bullets and a thousand micro- and macroaggressions, just standing up and saying that their lives matter. I met Jesus in leaving my comfort zone—mentally, emotionally and physically—and much of the time having no real idea what I was doing and praying harder than I have ever prayed in my life.
Photo: Robert Cohen
And I realized that the captive that Jesus was freeing was me. My participation in systems that oppress was turning me into the crowd yelling “crucify,” and I had to stop or lose my soul. I realized that my privilege holds me captive and separates me from Jesus, that I had loved it more than Jesus my Lord. And that I had to break that addiction and the only thing that could do that was the power of love. What’s in it for us as white people? Why talk about white privilege and white supremacy, race, class and power? Why change our lives? Because the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, calling us forward. Because we are captives needing to be released. Because we cannot free the oppressed from the outside in, only from the inside out. Because the way to know Jesus Christ is to count all as loss so that we may gain Christ. Today, may this scripture be fulfilled in our hearing. Kinman is dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, MO.
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“RELEASING THE CAPTIVES” PLACES TO BEGIN A challenge with white people doing work on our privilege that we often depend on people of color to educate us. A certain amount of that is unavoidable—asking people of color to share their experiences—but we must never forget that act is burdensome, re-traumatizing and costly. We must show gratitude by listening and believing and by also engaging in what has come to be called “White Folk Work.” Resource provided by Dean Mile Kinman. White people can work on our own racism and privilege, fulfilling the scripture of setting the oppressed free and releasing the captives—and we can do it using the habits of Christian discipleship.
readable resource on the school-to-prison pipeline. • The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward Baptist—long but critically important work. Also get on Twitter and listen to the raw, unvarnished voices of young, black activists. Add these to your Twitter feed: @MillennialAU, @BrownBlaze, @Bdoulaoblongata, @DeRay, @TribeX, @BlackLivesMatter, @RevSekou, @MsPackyetti, @SheenBean32, @yoauntielikeit
PRAYER Racism is a stain on our hearts and our lives. Pray daily that God will remove it. Pray daily for God to draw you into relationships that will soften and transform your heart. Pray daily that God will help you see your privilege and be willing to use it or sacrifice it for those who are oppressed.
SPEND Yes, how we spend … how we function in our economy is a matter of following Jesus. How many of your economic relationships of choice (doctor, lawyer, financial planner, dry cleaner) are black? How many restaurants, coffee shops, stores and other establishments do you patronize in black neighborhoods or that are black owned. Diversify your economics—and build relationships. Your local miniority business council can help.
WORSHIP If you worship in a primarily white church, take a month (or more) and worship in a primarily black church. Take part in community activities. Do this not as a tourist (a consumer of experiences) but as a pilgrim … someone looking to be changed.
GIVE We also follow Jesus by what we give to. Find organizations working to end racial oppression and support them. That could be the NAACP or the Urban League. It could also be local activist and community development organizations.
STUDY Several excellent books to read:
SHOW UP When there are #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations or demonstrations against gun violence or police violence or unfair housing or education inequality—show up. It matters. The more people who show up to demonstrate, the more difficult it is to dismiss this new civil rights movement as anything less than a movement of the people for the realm of God.
• Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It, by Shelly Tochluk—an excellent first book about white privilege • The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander—the best
@BYP_100 @RaceForward @ajplus @TheRoot @handsupunited_ @WhiteFolkWork @MHPshow @BlackInAmerica #SayHerName #iamtheconversation #BlackLivesMatter List provided from LaShane K. Eaglin
M ORE RE S OURCES
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
The Myra McDaniel Chapter of UBE recommends the following resources: BOOKS Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-First Century Challenge to White America by Joseph Barndt Possessive Investment In Whiteness by George Lipsitz Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege by Robert Jensen DOCUMENTARIES Eyes on the Prize We Shall Not Be Moved Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible
San Diego blogger Aaryn Belfer wrote some suggestions for her white friends who were unsure how to take positive action or begin conversations about racism. Talk with your children about racism, who has privilege, who doesn’t and why. Provide books that include black characters and other people of color and talk about them: Please, Baby Please; Shades of Black; Amazing Grace; Black is Brown is Tan; and Tar Beach; Brown Girl Dreaming, One Crazy Summer, and any of the Ruby and the Booker Boys series for the middles and olders. Form partnerships with people of color at your child’s school and agitate for equity. Speak up whenever you hear a comment or joke that disparages any marginalized community.
A BELOVED COMMUNITY
That Awful Sin of Racism.
by the Carole A. Pinkett
One reason could be because we have failed to fully recognize how deeply embedded racism is in the structures of society and the church. Besides the national recognition of Black History Month, Absalom Jones, or even some horrendous criminal acts to a black, how often do we sit down to discuss our inner feelings and how to improve the concept of being a full-time Christian? Do we develop measures so that we don’t repeat the same sin—over and over again? “Seldom: is the answer! Even when we do, we don’t seem to know what to do, how to identify the terms used, how to express ourselves in a meaningful—yet harmless way. One could say our society is doing a better job than the church in mitigating the effects of institutional racism. Yes—we have blacks with high earning capacities, more elected officials, even have a black President of the United States: So what’s the problem? Is this not integration? Is this not what many have fought and died for? The church is a central institution for many, yet the church is unable to enforce remedial legislations and disciplinary measures to regulate the conduct of its members. In fact, I believe (as a cradle Episcopalian) 14 |
many do not even see the need to dismantle the race-based organizations within the church. Could it be that we have not realized that racism is actually a religion that repudiates all of the essential doctrines of Christianity? Perhaps a correct understanding of the religious nature of racism may help us to see the urgency of doing something about this sin—NOW! Could it be that racism is not simply an ideology of supremacy or an ideology of power? Could it just be a religion? WOW! I’m sure that could be a debatable discussion topic for an interracial group. There is an interesting article written by Christena Cleveland, “Everything I Know about Racism I Learned in the Church”—having a sub-title—”Racism is Taught.” The article is somewhat humorous, yet offers some insights of why and how our church society considers this sinful topic. Many national churches have doctrines that affirm resolutions that racism is a sin—citing that “all racist theories are contrary to Christian faith and love.” These affirmations have been on the books for years.
Yet—in sharp contrast to the growing awareness of human dignity, racism still exists and continually raises its head in different forms, often ugly. It is a wound in humanity’s side that mysteriously remains open. All Christians must make special organized efforts to respond to it with great firmness, patience and respect. Respect for every person and every race is respect for basic rights, dignity and fundamental equality. This does not mean erasing cultural differences. Instead, I see this as an important opportunity to educate all of us to embrace appreciation of the complementary diversity of peoples, the new term being Reconciliation. You know, this shouldn’t be a major topic today—the 21st century. We spend enormous time and energies (and even money) “defending our positions.” Episcopalians—we have a challenge, and we must recognize that we must bring more to the table than just self-acclaimed priorities. Our priority as a Christian, as an Episcopalian, is not to commit the sin of racism. Pinkett is chair of the diocesan Commission on Black Ministry.
The One Human Race workshops provide an opportunity to learn and share society’s persistent institutional and systemic racism in a safe, open and productive environment. The workshops are based on PBS’s Race: The Power of an Illusion, which examines racism and its effects in the United States, and are designed to transform participants understanding of race and to unite people of all backgrounds in eradicating racism. Workshops may be hosted by an Austin area church or other organization. The host provides meeting space and audiovisual support. Once the workshop is scheduled, it is added to the One Human Race website and others in the community may then register for the event. Normally, the majority of participants are from the host organization, but often many other people attend as well. There is no charge for the host organization or the attendees, but donations are appreciated. These funds help support the UBE chapter in Austin and help underwrite expenses for the One Human Race ministry. The chapter hopes to train facilitators in the near future to extend the workshops beyond the Austin area. One Human Race workshops were conceived of by the Myra McDaniel Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians and use the PBS Discussion Guide and other relevant materials.
Join the One Human Race Movement
WHY WE CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH Black History Month reminds us all of the rich history of a people of faith and highlights the stories that have long been missing from our broader American history. Read the full story here: tinyurl.com/edothistory.
THE AMBIGUITY OF SOUTHERNNESS Dean Thompson contemplates his upbringing in the segregated South and living a life committed to the Gospel where there is “no Jew or Greek, no slave or free” no black or white.” Read the full story here: tinyurl.com/ AmbiguityofSouthernness.
There is one workshop scheduled for St. John’s, Austin, in September and two in October. Please visit onehumanrace.org or call Teresa Chang to host a workshop or to learn more, 512.289.0428. Visit ubeaustin. blogspot.com for more information.
This Far By Faith This Far By Faith A HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN-A
PRESENCE IN THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE
The Commission on Black Ministry has compiled a book on the history of the historically black churches in the Diocese of Texas. To read online: go to epicenter.org/edothistory. To include anecdotal information or archival photos to future editions, please contact Carole A. Pinkett at: email@example.com
SEEING GOD IN THE FACE OF FREDDIE GRAY “But Lord, where did we see you dying and on the cross?” “Running down a Baltimore street, On a Florida sidewalk. As you did it to one of these black male bodies you did it to me.” Read the full story here: cnn.com/2015/04/28/living/godDiolog | 15 | SEPTEMBER freddie-gray.
A BELOVED COMMUNITY
CROSSING THE RACIAL DIVIDE
Sharing Untold Stories Can Open Doors to Healing
by the Rev. Patricia Templeton St. James’ Episcopal Church, founded in 1842, and Zion Baptist Church, founded in 1866, are just a funeral home away from each other in downtown Marietta, Georgia. The churches have a history of neighborliness. When St. James’ was undergoing construction a few years ago, Zion opened its doors to let the Episcopalians use their fellowship hall. The clergy have exchanged pulpits; the choirs have sung at each other’s worship services. As interim rector of St. James’, the Rev. Dean Taylor had not personally been part of that history, but he was moved by the 2012 General Convention’s call to study the Episcopal Church’s complicity in the institution of slavery, and to work toward racial reconciliation. “Many of St. James’ founders were slave owners,” Taylor said. “What do you do with that past? Do you pretend it didn’t happen? Do you let it paralyze you?” As Taylor pondered those questions, he read The Grace of Silence, a memoir by Michele Norris, host of National Public Radio’s afternoon news magazine, “All Things Considered.”
Michele Norris is the host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” and author of The Grace of Silence.
Norris’ book contains conversations about race within her own extended family, including things not spoken about when she was a child. Reading the book, thinking about his own church’s past—and looking every day at the sign in front of neighboring Zion that read “Founded in 1866 by former slaves,” Taylor had an idea. He called Norris and asked if she would come tell her story to parishioners from both churches. She enthusiastically agreed. Then he called the Rev. Harris Travis, pastor at Zion, and invited him and his congregation to come eat dinner and hear Norris. Travis enthusiastically accepted. And so, to paraphrase the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I
To include your thoughts on race in the Race Card Project, think about the word “Race.” How would you distill your thoughts, experiences or observations about race into one sentence that only has six words? Then go to theracecardproject.com and complete the form to add your voice. Race Cards can be thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking, brave, teeming with anger or shimmering with hope. Join the conversation. Have a Dream” speech, on a February evening in the red hills of Georgia, the sons and daughters of former slaves and the sons and daughters of former slave owners sat together at the “table of brotherhood.” “I am so excited about being here,” Norris told the crowd, seated at tables of eight, four from each congregation. “Close your eyes and think back to 1946. It’s hard to imagine we could be sitting here tonight.” Norris was inspired to write her book after the historic presidential campaign and election of Barack Obama. “The run up to the election was a period where people were thinking and talking about race in new ways,” she said. “My intention was to write a book of essays about other people. And then something happened. I realized I was hearing something different even in my own family. “It was like the elders were going through a period of historic indigestion. All these stories and things they had kept to themselves were coming up and coming out. “When they picked up a newspaper and saw a man of color sitting in the Oval Office, something shifted. Even for those who are conservative, it felt like they had reached up and touched the sun. And suddenly stories came pouring out.” Norris learned two surprising and unsettling stories about her own family. First, she learned that her maternal grandmother worked as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She would dress up and travel through six Photo: Cindy Brown
Midwestern states, giving demonstrations on how to use the pancake mix. “My mother was so angry at my uncle for telling me this story,” Norris said. “No one had talked about it; no one in my generation knew. My mother and her siblings had a lot of complicated feelings about it. We’re talking about an Aunt Jemima who looked and dressed like a slave woman.” Norris had difficulty reconciling that image with the well-dressed, proud, elegant grandmother she remembered. “I don’t know what kind of hard bargain she made with herself, what went through her head as she dressed like Aunt Jemima,” Norris said. As she researched her grandmother’s story, she came across newspaper clippings with stories about her and talked to some who had seen and met her grandmother. “I began to look at it differently. I saw that she was traveling and working in a time when women didn’t do that. I read the newspaper stories and saw that she had no shame about her work. “She was often facing audiences who had never seen a woman of color. She used careful diction when she spoke, not the slave patois the advertisements for Aunt Jemima used. She took a job that could so easily have been demeaning, but she did it with great dignity in her own way.” The second story Norris learned was even more shocking—that her father had been shot by the police in Birmingham. Her uncle blurted it out one morning over breakfast, more than 20 years after her
father’s death. “You know, your father was shot.” Norris didn’t know that. Neither did her sisters or her mother. It took much questioning and digging for Norris to find out the details of what happened that Thursday evening in February 1946, two weeks after her father’s return from World War II. Her father, Belvin Norris, his brother and a friend were in the lobby of the Pythian Temple, one of two buildings that housed offices of black professionals and businesses in the deeply segregated Jim Crow era, when two policemen walked up behind them. The elevator opened and one of the officers stuck his nightstick in front of the black men to block their entrance. Norris’ father pushed the stick away. The policeman drew his gun, pointing it at Belvin Norris’ chest. His brother knocked the policeman’s arm down; the gun went off, shooting Belvin in the leg. In a very real sense, Belvin Norris was lucky; the bullet only grazed him. It could have been much worse. In a period of a week during that time half a dozen black veterans were killed by police officers in Birmingham. “My father was part of a group of men who fought for their country,” Norris told her Marietta audience. “They did their part. They participated in the fight for democracy in foreign lands, and they got this crazy idea that they could get a taste of it back home. They loved a country that Diolog
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didn’t love them back.” People ask Norris if she is angry about what happened to her father. “I don’t look back in anger,” she replies. “I look back in wonder. My father had so many reasons to be angry, and yet he did not allow himself to be calcified with anger. He responded with grace.” It would have been easy, even understandable, to let the anger, frustration and shame of the shooting, and the many other indignities inflicted on a black person in the deep South in that era, eat away at him. It would have been easy to pass all of that on to his children, to teach them to distrust and hate white people, to be suspicious and distrustful of their country. Belvin Norris chose not to live that way. And gradually his daughter came to understand that her parents intentionally made the choice not to tell the difficult stories of their past so that their children would not be weighed down and infected by the anger and frustration of their elders. “If you want your babies to soar, your don’t put rocks in their pockets,” Norris said. But she also knows that it is now important for her and her children to know the stories of their past. “There is often grace in silence,” she said. “But there is always power in understanding.” Norris decided to share her very personal family stories in an effort to encourage others to find out about their own family histories. “Think about your own histories, you own lives,” she said. “How much do you really know about the people who raised you? How much do your children really know about you?” As a way to get people started in conversations about race, Norris has developed what she calls “the race card.” She passes out the postcard-sized cards and invites people to express their thoughts about race in six words. “That’s right,” the card says. “Your experiences, thoughts, triumphs, laments, theory or anthem expressed in six words.” Some of the cards she received in Marietta, now posted on her website, www.michelenorris.com, offer insights into the thoughts of members of both churches. “Race is our burden and opportunity,” one reads.
“Growing together within the same soil,” says another. “Tomorrow’s promise, yesterday’s shame, today’s discussion,” one participant writes. “Deal honestly and courageously with it,” another adds. “Race: G + Race = Grace,” says another. Speaking from her NPR office in Washington, D.C., the week after her Marietta visit, Norris said she hopes to come back to meet with the churches again and continue the conversation. “It felt very much like the beginning of a journey, not just a single event,” she said. “There’s much more left to say, for all of them to talk about their stories.” Norris said she believes people do want to tell their stories and talk about race, but often don’t know how to begin or where to find a safe place for the conversation. “I think it is an incredibly courageous thing these churches are doing,” she said. “These two churches can serve as a beacon for others. I’ve told the pastors that I am at their service; I am happy to come back.” Taylor and Travis say they, too, hope the evening was not a one-time event. Travis said he could identify with Norris’ story. “Back during the era of segregation, you didn’t talk about things that happened,” he said. “It was out of fear. If you stepped out of place, spoke out of place, something might happen not just to you, but to your family. “When you get into the subject of racism, everybody tends to clam up,” he said. “But the only way things will ever change is if we talk about it.” Taylor said he doesn’t know yet what the next step will be, but he hopes Norris will come back and that the conversations will continue. “I hope this has eased us into thinking about this as community,” he said. “Maybe we can begin to talk, to share the prickly things, the uncomfortable things community wide. “When we tell our stories we are standing on holy ground. When I looked out over the room and saw all those tables and people talking to one another, it looked like the kingdom to me.” Templeton is rector of St. Dunstan’s, Atlanta.
Norris also leads the “The Race Card Project,” an initiative to foster a wider conversation about race in America that she created after the publication of her 2010 family memoir, The Grace of Silence. In the book she turns her formidable interviewing and investigative skills on her own background to unearth long-hidden family secrets that raise questions about her racial legacy and shed new light on America’s complicated racial history. 18 |
Reprinted from Pathways with permission.
Sowing Holy Questions on Race by Scott Bader-Saye
In an early episode, one of the characters describes what she hopes to produce in the face of the dominant, commodified, ratings-driven, news-as-entertainment paradigm. “We need,” she says, “a nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect, and a return to what’s important; the death of gossip and voyeurism; speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot; a place where we all come together.” What would it look like, they ask, to view the news not as a conduit for advertising but as a public service? Though at times the heady sincerity can come off as sanctimonious, what is compelling about this series is its desire to explore the possibility of intelligent conversation and debate in a media culture driven by trivia, hostility, and self-promotion. We in the church are not immune to the general cultural trends that dumb down conversation and turn moral debate into a bloodsport. In order to combat just this tendency, the faculty at Seminary of the Southwest decided, in the lead up to General Convention, to try to steer our ecclesial conversation away from apocalypse and animosity. We decided that the best way to influence the deliberation was to help shape the questions being asked and to frame those questions in distinctly biblical and theological terms. Thus began our new digital ministry, “Sowing Holy Questions.” One issue about which good questions and holy thinking are sorely needed right now is race. The failure of fruitful discourse can be seen in the recent discussion of whether presidential candidates, Republican or Democratic, are willing to embrace the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” On one hand, a preoccupation with the use (or disuse) of a particular phrase can take on disproportionate significance. It is easy to tweet the right slogan. The harder task is to address systemic injustice and implicit bias. On the other hand, if a candidate
is not willing to say, without qualification, that “Black lives matter,” how can we trust that she or he will, in fact, work to change the current patterns of policing that make black lives disposable? Bringing race into the political conversation is important, but for Christians this cannot be done apart from bringing race into our ecclesial conversations. Episcopalians just elected our first African-American presiding bishop, but we must be careful not to think that this signals a successful resolution to racial bias in our church family. Just as President Obama’s election did not usher in a period of racial equality, so Bishop Curry’s election will not magically make our church more welcoming of racial difference. If we believe that the Apostle Paul is right in saying that Jesus has “broken down the dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14), then we must trust also that God is at work breaking down the dividing walls that explicitly or implicitly relegate certain persons to a lesser status in our church and society. We might ask ourselves these holy questions: How is my church community intentionally welcoming racial difference? Are the Christians in my town actively working to promote models of community policing that are consistent with Jesus’ teaching? Are we displaying in word and deed that black lives do matter to God and to the church? These questions might help us take a first step toward embodying a different kind of conversation, one that is not only civil but theological, not only theoretical but productive of real social change.
sowingholyquestions.org, #holyquestions Bader-Saye is academic dean and professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at Seminary of the Southwest, Austin. Diolog
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WE ARE CALLED TO LOVE, TRUTH AND JUSTICE by the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright
Ed. note: A year ago, the Rt. Rev. Rob Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, wrote the following letter to his congregations. In the months that followed Michael Brown, 18; Eric Garner, 43; Tamir Rice, 12; and Freddie Gray, 25, were among a number of blacks killed by police, causing protests across the country. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin’s death had previously given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. On June 17, 2015 nine people were shot to death during their Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, victims of a racially motivated hate crime. The investigation into Sandra Bland’s death on July 13, 2015, in a Waller, Texas jail continues. She was 28 years old. Each of these lives illuminates an urgent need for all people to work actively towards repentance and reconciliation and against the sin of racism that continues to infect our culture. Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ, The enterprise of dismantling racism as agents of racial reconciliation is the work of all the baptized in every age. We are the disciples of a Lord who gave His life for love, truth and justice. No less is required of us today! You know that racism, in all its forms, is sin. It is founded on a lie and is therefore an affront to God, an abuse of power and a demonic spirit. Racism is depravity and deviance from Jesus’ example and teaching about the sanctity of human dignity and the oneness of the human family. Racism injures both the victim and the perpetrator. The victim of racism is constantly and culturally force-fed a diet of inferiority, indignity and shame simply for being born as God designed. So insidious is this process that in many instances its victims not only ingest but internalize and actively participate in their own oppression. The perpetrators of racism injure God, themselves, their communities and their progeny by accepting culturally and reinforcing economically the tragic lie of racial superiority. Into these souls goes the putrid mix of idolatry, arrogance, guilt and shame. Then there is the haunting sense of some that their present well-being owes its genesis to stolen personhood and stolen labor. From the founding of our country and state until now, racism continues to diminish us. The history books tell us The Episcopal Church, in the U.S. is not innocent concerning racism. Though we as the church have been called to live differently and have been
given the spiritual power to accomplish this calling, the Church has actively participated in and profited from the institutionalizing of the sin of racism. “In Christ there is no East or West ... Join hands, disciples of the faith, whate’er your race may be,”1 by the close of worship, in many places, it seems we have a double mind. Faced with this reality—whether perpetrator or victim—as the church, you and I are invited to “repent and return to The Lord.”2 What scripture calls “the more excellent way”3 forward for us is not to be consumed by blame or guilt but to take inventory of our hearts and amend our lives. We do this courageously because, though we may be culpable, we are not condemned. We must confess all that is in us that’s hostile to love, and remember we are assured of God’s absolute forgiveness. Then we commit, from this day forward, to lives that actively enlarge justice, tear down inequity, make restitution and increase reconciliation. Only these things can purge us of the awful lie that divides and destroys us. By these works we are tuned instruments of peace and ambassadors for Christ now. To do this work is to hear Jesus say again, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”4 To do this work is to hear Jesus say again, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”5 I implore you, beloved, by the mercies of God let us be transformed by the renewing of our hearts and minds.” Bishop Rob Wright
Hymn: In Christ there is no East or West, Hymnal 1982 #529 Baptismal Covenant: Book of Common Prayer; page 299 3 Hymn: In Christ there is no East or West, Hymnal 1982 #529 4 The Gospel of John 13:35 5 The Gospel of Matthew 25:21 1 2
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made for goodness: An Invitation by Catherine Meeks
Guidelines for Reading Circles PARTICIPANTS AND FACILITATORS AGREE TO:
• Respect confidentiality • Have the courage to speak candidly while being sensitive to others • Keep an open mind • Listen to seek understanding • Ask clarifying questions • Be fully present READING CIRCLE FACILITATORS AGREE TO:
• Open with a prayer or moment of silence • Support one another’s learning • Respect each other’s time 22 |
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Episcopal priest Mpho Tutu, pulled me into their arms of love and grace as I began to read made for goodness and why this makes all the difference (HarperCollins, 2010). They invited me to listen with my heart to their stories of great evil and God’s great grace. I want to encourage parishes and people of Episcopal churches in Middle and North Georgia to form their own book groups to read and talk about made for goodness. As the title indicates, every one of us is made for goodness. The stories the Tutus tell come from their experiences of apartheid in South Africa, a society divided along racial lines that used brutality to maintain control. Though the stories held me in their grip and brought great waves of emotion with them, all of them pointed my heart toward the grace that God sends in ways that cannot be easily understood and explained. One of the special things about this book is that it can help everyone who struggles and lead to understanding and forgiveness. This book can also help to begin a new conversation about racism and racial healing. Made for goodness reminds us of God’s great love and can encourage the reader to embrace that idea daily. This embrace, through God’s grace, will lead us to God’s intended community.
The reflection questions, the meditation thought and suggested
action are offered as tools to help in facilitating the conversation on made for goodness and why this makes all the difference. These tools are designed to be used at the conclusion of each chapter, though the reader is encouraged to use them in ways that will best benefit any effort to engage this text. The meditation thoughts were inspired primarily by Psalm 91, which has been a source of great transformation for many who have used it as a daily meditation resource. It is a good idea to use a journal to record responses to the reflection questions and some of the thoughts and ideas that may develop when the meditation thought is being engaged and the suggested actions are being implemented.
CHAPTER 1: The Difference Goodness Makes FOR REFLECTION: 1. What is the main idea that is being expressed in this opening chapter? 2. What is some of the evidence presented in this chapter that supports the premise that human beings have the capacity for good and for evil? 3. What is Ubuntu? 4. What does it mean to be made like God and for God? 5. Who is our only true teacher? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “Those who go to God Most High for safety will be protected. I will say to the Lord, ‘You are my place of safety and protection.’” SUGGESTED ACTION: Find a way to offer a gift of service to a weak and vulnerable person. This can be a one-time event or an ongoing one.
CHAPTER 2: Stop “Being Good” FOR REFLECTION: 1. What is the most challenging demon that human beings must confront? 2. What is our goodness? 3. What is the difference between being “in love”with a person and “loving” that person? 4. How does perfect love cause you to act? 5. List and think about some of the chapter’s examples of the expression of perfect love. MEDITATION THOUGHT: “You are my God and I trust you.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Take yourself on an afternoon pleasure picnic. Seek all of the things that bring you true joy and delight while continuing to meditate upon the passage above.
CHAPTER 3: An Invitation to Wholeness
Dr. Catherine Meeks is a member of St. Francis’ Episcopal Church, Macon, and the Diocese of Atlanta Anti-Racism Commission. She holds a doctorate from Emory University and is the retired Clara Carter Acree Distinguished Professor of Social Science at Wesleyan College.
FOR REFLECTION: 1. What do you hear in the following declaration, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Do you hear something impossible to achieve such as unachievable standards set by parents, teachers or yourself?” What do you think Jesus meant for you to hear? 2. How do you relate to the conflict that is described as a part of the life of Afrikaner cleric Beyers Naudé as he tried to reconcile the challenge to support and maintain apartheid with the messages that came to his heart from his prayer and Bible study? 3. What does it mean to trade a “flawlessly perfect life” for a “perfectly whole life”? 4. How can flaws and vulnerability be a “bridge” to human community and to a relationship with the divine? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Designate a period of each day for seven days to consciously offer kindness to everyone who crosses your path. Pay special attention to those who are unkind or thoughtless. Record your actions and how your behavior is affected by them.
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PULL-OUT BOOK STUDY GUIDE CHAPTER 4: Free to Choose FOR REFLECTION: 1. What are your initial responses to the murder of Chris Hani and Nelson Mandela’s reaction to it? Think about the opportunities that you have been given to make a choice between personal satisfaction and the greater good. What did you do? 2. “God would rather we go freely to hell than that we be compelled to enter heaven.” How do you respond to this idea? 3. What is the role of the prophet? Who are the most profound prophetic voices of our present day? 4. How is friendship with God forged and why is such a friendship so important? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “God will save you from hidden traps... and cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Choose generosity without judgment. For three days, pay attention to the opportunity to express generosity of thought or behavior toward another minus any kind of negative projection.
CHAPTER 5: The Habits of Wrongness FOR REFLECTION: 1. How do you respond to the following statement? “The effects of racism were first felt early in life and were experienced until death. The insults of racism, once learned, were employed daily.” 2. Tutu believes that racism is evil and that it goes against “the grain of creation.” What are your thoughts about the way that the capacity for goodness intersects with the capacity for evil? 3. “Was it nice?” “Was it necessary?” How would asking these two questions about every encounter impact human interaction? 4. How does evil bleed into the fabric of life and affect joy and beauty? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “God’s truth will be your protection and shield.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Look into a report of an injustice and see if you can discern the truth and allow yourself to reflect upon what you would have done.
CHAPTER 6: Where Is God When We Suffer? FOR REFLECTION: 1. Desmond Tutu says, “God is consistent.” How does God’s consistency affect suffering? 2. Mpho Tutu believes, “A drop in the bucket matters because it takes one final drop to fill the bucket.” What are the best examples from this chapter of the power of that one drop in the bucket? 3. What is the value of suffering? 4. What is compassion? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “The Lord is your protection. You have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Choose generosity without judgment. For three days, pay attention to the opportunity to express generosity of thought or behavior toward another minus any kind of negative projection.
CHAPTER 7: Where Is God When We Fail? FOR REFLECTION: 1. When is failure a gift? When is failure not a gift? 2. What are your thoughts about Jesus’ ministry as a failure in human terms? Why was Jesus’ resurrection a challenge to his disciples? 3. In what ways does the work of Bishop Ambrose Reeves resonate with you? What are the major messages that you receive from the story of his life and work? 4. What is the value of choosing goodness? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Walk back through your journey and reflect upon your experiences of failure and see whether or not you see those experiences in that way now. Explore whether you learned any lessons that may have changed your initial analysis of the situation.
CHAPTER 8: Why Does God Let Us Sin? FOR REFLECTION: 1. How does the idea of God being on the side of the sinner impact you when you think about the power of evil as it is presented in this chapter? 2. How is your daily journey informed by the idea of God’s gift of unmerited and unconditional love? 3. How does the idea of God taking the initiative in everything inspire you to confront the evil of our day? 4. What does the story of Azim Khamisa say about forgiveness? What would you do in a situation such as his? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “You will not fear any danger by night or an arrow during the day.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Search your memory. Is there an old wound there? Is there something that wants to be forgiven? Do you need to forgive someone? Do you need to forgive yourself for an old failing? Find a trusted listener and share this as you embrace the forgiving love of God.
CHAPTER 9: Going Home to Goodness FOR REFLECTION: 1. How do we find our way to goodness through the challenge of our habits? 2. How does the story of Amy Biehl and her parents, Peter and Linda, affect you? 3. What is reconciliation? 4. After reading about the powerful healing that came to many South Africans as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, do you think that the Diocese of Atlanta could benefit from a truthtelling series about the wounding that resulted from slavery and the racial hatred that followed it? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “The angels will catch you in their hands, so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.” SUGGESTED ACTION: Think about whether there is a person of a different race with whom you can share this chapter of the book and engage in a meaningful conversation about it. If so, try to do that within seven to 10 days after reading this chapter.
CHAPTER 10: Hearing God’s Voice FOR REFLECTION: 1. How can you create enough space in your daily life so that it will be possible to have the necessary quietness for God’s voice to be heard? 2. How is it that the noise of our concerns becomes much less when we pray? 3. What “little prayers” do you have to take you through the day? 4. What does Mpho Tutu mean by “a time to arrive” being provided by silence. 5. What is “God pressure”? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “The Lord is your protection.” SUGGESTED ACTION: If you keep a discipline of silence already, try to increase it by 15 minutes. If you don’t have such a discipline, try to begin one and take small steps as you begin. Get a timer and begin with 10 minutes in the morning or evening and hold the time sacred as you explore that path to see where it will take you.
CHAPTER 11: Seeing with God’s Eyes FOR REFLECTION: 1. How do you “put skin on” God’s love? 2. What thoughts and feelings does the Dominique Green story evoke for you? 3. How does self-acceptance help us to live a life of wholeness? 4. What is the difference between “being good” and “doing good” and the goodness and wholeness that this book is exploring? 5. How can embracing the idea that human beings are made for goodness affect the troubled human relationships that exist in every corner of the world? MEDITATION THOUGHT: “They will call to me and I will answer.” SUGGESTED ACTION: “What is the action that my best self would take?” “What is the answer my best self would give?” Spend the next seven days asking yourself these two questions before making a response to any challenging situation.
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A BELOVED COMMUNITY
Caution: Falling Icons Ahead by Cathy Boyd
We who live on the planet are in the midst of a huge, griefinducing identity crisis, and it’s frankly overwhelming. Extremists on both ends of the political spectrum notwithstanding, most of us—both conservative and liberal—are stuck in the middle, not knowing what we can do. It is so easy to be dispirited and paralyzed. We don’t know how to help. Icons are falling like dominoes: the Confederate flag, Atticus Finch, Bill Cosby, “traditional” marriage. Other painful and divisive issues such as gun control, race relations and gender politics—have not fallen but persist like an incurable virus. It is not entirely a bad thing that nostalgia is taking such a beating. We will never return to the Good Old Days when men were men and women were girls, when black people knew their place, when there was no such thing as gay people, nobody talked about rape or sexual abuse, and white Christians were in charge. Yes, in many ways those were simpler times. But in many other ways, those times were not the best of times, they were the worst of times. The upside of today’s overwhelming clamor is that many voices are only now finding their voices. The downside is that we have lost every single helpful filter too: we’re back to Babel. We all feel bad about something. And we seem to be addicted to arguing. But we also agree—that is, most of us would agree—that people are mostly good, and that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing.” We want to do something, but we’re paralyzed. I have to remember that can’t do something about everything. But I can practice one thing. I can do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with my God. And then pick a task and do it. Pick a kindness, any kindness. And what’s so bad about “feeling bad,” anyway? Yes, we hate to admit that something we have believed turns out to be a lie. But once we get over ourselves, stripping
away falsehood is a good kind of feeling bad: it strips us fresh and clean, like Aslan stripping Eustace Scrubb of his dragon skin: “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off…I found that all the pain had gone...I’d turned into a boy again.” (C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) Doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly teaches you not to turn a blind eye to your fellow human. True religious practice is not selfcentered, it is other-centered. Which, in turn, means Godcentered. Doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly enhances my peripheral vision so I can see beyond just me and my little bubble. I don’t have to do everything. Just the one thing. Boyd is associate rector at Trinity, Marble Falls, and wrote this piece for her blog, Soul Curacy.
Conversations Seek to Broaden Perspective by the Rev. Stephen Kinney In July, Front Porch, Austin, hosted two conversations at Scholz Beer Garden that brought over a hundred people together from around Austin to talk about recent social changes in marriage and racial relationships. As the director of the Front Porch, I wanted to bring folks together in face-to-face dialogue where true understanding and respect for each person’s perspective could happen. It’s always a risky, vulnerable thing to open up to others in our politically and culturally divisive climate. We can get defensive and offensive real quick. But I’ve had enough experience on the Front Porch to know the payoff when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see Christ’s beloved in the feared other. Our goal was not agreement, but a desire to see and relate to each and every unique other through the lens of love. While it was a unique, relatively diverse blend of Austinites, the fact is that we all pretty much looked alike— most Austinites west of Interstate 35 do look alike. But it was a start. We laid out some ground rules and encouraged the group to share how recent events had affected them personally. NPR’s John Burnett framed the conversation by sharing his story of the racial divide during Hurricane Katrina, which he reported on 10 years ago. Chris Pearson, a lawyer, set a tone of openness when he admitted, “I used to be so sure of myself and of what I believed 20 years ago I’m not so certain anymore. What beliefs of mine today
will I not be so sure of 20 years from now?” We were joined by author and internationally acclaimed musician Jimi Calhoun, also pastor of Bridging Austin. Jimi asked as an AfricanAmerican, “What does one mean when he or she says, ‘I am not a racist’?” Despite the limited racial diversity in the room, there was an honest effort to understand and reckon with “white privilege,” the concept that whites perceive racial identity and racial relationships differently than blacks, since people of color have been marginalized as the minority and not given equal access to the American dream. We considered how the inability to see white privilege weakens our best efforts to listen to the voices of racially different others. We acknowledged how our profound fear of the other turns community into collectives of like-mindedness that justify sameness in the name of law and order and scapegoat different “others” in the process. We recognized the call to participate in the struggle to connect with and tap into the power of the beloved other, who offers great potential for healing and wholeness in our brokenness and fear. At the end of the dialogue, John Burnett called on the rector of All Saints’, Mike Adams, to give his theological take on the issues. Mike made it clear that the Church at its best does not dictate the conversation; it hosts it. He then reaffirmed our
The Front Porch exists as a nonprofit mission of the Episcopal Church to create opportunities for people in secularized culture to connect and enjoy communion through its programming and services in a world often divided by religion, politics, and culture. We promote dialogue as the way to build and strengthen our community because of, rather than in spite of, our differences.
need to have all voices at the table and concluded that, “God is God, and we are not God.” After the conversation, Dave Madden, our resident musician, led us in singing Bob Marley’s “One Love,” and he offered his rendition of Coldplay’s “The Speed of Sound.” All were then invited to share Holy Communion, which was celebrated in the spirit of Jesus’ table fellowship with the other—the alien outsider, the sinner, and the outcast. A point was made that the only ones excluded from his table were the righteous ones who excluded themselves.
Join the Conversation
frontporchaustin.org In the course of our time together, a spirit of kinship emerged between us. Someone said she felt more hopeful. I may be projecting this, but I confirmed something in our time together that I believe to be true theoretically: otherness constitutes and enriches unity, the true communion does not threaten otherness—it actually generates and affirms it. We all agreed to keep talking and listening and to keep inviting all others to the table. Kinney is executive director of the Front Porch.
| 27 | SEPTEMBER
“This is a moment
for the Church to reclaim its share in the Jesus Movement.” 28 |
WE HAVE WORK TO DO
PRESIDING BISHOP-ELECT SAYS Ed. note: Lynette Wilson spoke with the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry immediately following his unprecedented election on the first ballot as the next presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, June 27, during the Church’s General Convention in Salt Lake City. Currently bishop of North Carolina, Curry was elected to the office for a nine-year term, which begins with his investiture in Washington National Cathedral, November 1, 2015. He was elected by the House of Bishops and confirmed overwhelmingly by the House of Deputies (800-12). The son of an Episcopal priest, Bishop Curry is known for his enthusiastic preaching and focus on evangelism and be the as the first AfricanAmerican to serve as presiding bishop. He succeeds the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman elected to the position. LW: What do you consider your role as presiding bishop-
who’s now a good friend, but who had been deployed to
to-be, and how will your experience and background
downtown Raleigh to create a Christian community—a
inform your work as presiding bishop?
church—on the streets. We got in a conversation because
MBC: Part of [the] role is to name a vision and a direction for this moment … I happen to believe that this is a moment for the Church to reclaim its share in the Jesus Movement. I believe that we are baptized into the Jesus Movement, into the way of Jesus. That’s part of the role of both inspiration and inspiring the operation of the Church going into the world. I’ll never forget a conversation I had some years ago in a Starbucks. I was standing behind a Mennonite pastor,
I had a collar on, and he realized I was clergy. He said, “In a time like this where people don’t automatically go to the church just ‘cause mama and grandpa did,’ the church can no longer wait for its congregation to come to it. The church must go where the congregation is.” I believe that part of a presiding bishop’s role in this mission moment is to help the church to go where the congregation is, to bear witness to the good news of Jesus, to live it, to witness to it, and to do it. That’s inspiration, but it’s also inspiring the operation as well.
| 29 | SEPTEMBER
LW: In the aftermath of Ferguson, how do you see the Episcopal Church being a leader in this nationwide conversation about racial reconciliation?
MBC: I think we have to be part of a national conversation. We’ve been pretty good about racial reconciliation in the church and doing intentional training [but] we’ve got more to do. To be very honest, the conversation between people of different ethnicities and races has not happened in our nation. And to some extent, Charleston and Ferguson and Trayvon and New York and on and on—to some extent, has begun a conversation. But I’m not sure it actually happens in the lunchrooms and in the Members of the Union of Black Episcopalians bless Bishop Curry following his election at General Convention.
LW: What do you consider to be the biggest challenges the
workplaces. Dr. King once said that 11 o’clock is the most segregated hour on a Sunday morning. It may well be true that, after the workday ends, our culture resegregates.
Church faces right now? And how do you anticipate facing those
Everybody goes back to their tribes, and the truth is we’ve got
to figure out a way for the tribes to come together and be in
MBC: We’re living through a period of, not only racial tensions,
conversation with each other.
but political polarizations, and the truth is, part of the work of the
Part of the dilemma is we don’t know each other, and I really do
Church in the world may be to help us find common ground [and
believe the Church can help to facilitate the kind of relationships
in which] people of different views and perspectives can actually
where people of different backgrounds and stripes and types
work together for the common good. I really like to say it—how
can actually get to know each other, where we can have the
we can work together to help God realize God’s dream and us not
conversation about how we can all find a better way. We’ve got to
be stuck in our nightmare?
have that conversation. I so admire Congressman John Lewis in
LW: What does it mean to you, considering the state of race
the House of Representatives because he is a constant voice. We’ve
relations in our nation, in our Church to be the first AfricanAmerican bishop of a predominantly white, Anglo, mainline denomination?
MBC: In many respects this is a sign of hope of a church that really is growing into the fullness of what God intends for all of us. Bishop Katharine’s election nine years ago—I was there. I remember being in that room and feeling like I actually had lived through a kind of Pentecost. There really was a sense of the Spirit of God being present with us, and God was doing something with
got to find a better way, and it’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat or a liberal or conservative. We’ve got to find a better way because we’re all in this together. If the church can foster that kind of conversation and then foster the kind of decision-making that really does seek to make this a better nation and a better world, I daresay we will have had made our contribution to God’s work of reconciliation in this world.
LW: What have you identified as priorities for your administration as you assume leadership of the Church, and what
all of us, not just with Bishop Katharine. God was, the Spirit was
is your leadership style?
being poured out, and men and women were hearing the good
MBC: I don’t really start until November 1, but I can tell you
news. I had that same feeling Saturday—that God was doing
what Michael Curry is about—what I’ve been about in North
something among us and opening us up to be the full people of
Carolina and what I’m about as a bishop and as a follower of Jesus.
God. And so the first is supposed to be a beginning, not an end.
I really do believe that the Church’s life—that our life together
And that means that the Spirit is being poured out to open us up,
as the body of Christ in the world—is going to be found as we
to open ourselves up to this world, kind of like that image of the
reclaim our share in the Jesus Movement. Now, somebody may
statue of Jesus with the outstretched arms. That’s who we’re called
ask, “What’s this Jesus Movement thing about? What’s that got to
to be, and I see my election, Bishop Katharine’s election, and all
do with anything?” Well, the truth is, if we’re doing it on our own,
that we’re doing and being as opening the arms of the body of
if this is our own program, it’s not going to work. If this is God’s
mission, if this is the Jesus Movement, and if we are following in his footsteps, living His teachings, living in His Spirit—if we’re
really doing that, then it’s not ours alone. In
become one that is more deeply rooted in,
MBC: I will participate fully. As the
fact, it’s not ours primarily; and therefore,
and spends more of its treasure on mission?
Archbishop of Canterbury gathers us in
we can engage all of the challenges that are
MBC: We’re in the midst of general
various ways or as we work together in
before us. All of the difficulties we face, we can surmount them, and we can move forward because we’re not moving on our own power. We are moving and living on the power of God’s love, and nothing can stop God’s love. If you don’t believe me, ask Pontius Pilate.
convention now, so I don’t know what the exact outcome of the specific recommendations … [but] the mission must determine the operation, not the other way around. That’s why this Jesus Movement—evangelism, discipleship, and witness—if that is the mission for us
And so, my conviction is that we are
at this mission moment, then we must
partners. We can commit ourselves to being
create organization and operation that
part of the Jesus Movement, and there are
actually make that happen … Right now,
three things I do see for us as a church. The
in this mission moment, what is the
Jesus Movement is about evangelism. It is
operation, what is the structure, what is
about forming followers, disciples of Jesus,
the organization that will serve the Jesus
and it is about making witness through
personal service and public prophecy.
LW: What do you want the average
That’s what I see as the key to the Jesus Movement in our time. Now, we’ll have to flesh that out, I know that. And that will take time. I’ve quoted Archbishop Tutu—I don’t know the original source—but he was talking about God’s mission in the world, and he said that “By himself, God won’t. By ourselves, we can’t. But together with God, we can.” That’s why we much claim our share in the movement of Jesus.
LW: What is your vision for the Church and what principles inform your views about how the presiding bishop’s senior leadership team should be assembled?
person in the pew to know about you?
part of that. The Anglican Communion is as much relationship as it is structure and organization. It is a network of relationships that have historical roots [as well as] missional roots. What really binds us together is that we are followers of Jesus and the Anglican Way, and those relationships—that primal relationship holds us together. Of course, we’re struggling. But I really do believe that we can continue to work together in partnerships that help to serve God’s mission in this world by joining together so that children don’t go to bed hungry, so that people have water, so that education is available to children, and so that women
MBC: You mean besides I’m a nice guy?
can support their families. We’ve got some
Well, I hope the average person in the pew
work to do. I really believe we’ve got some
knows me to be—I hope I’m decent and
Jesus work to do.
kind and strong and loving and fallible and sinful. I hope they know me as a follower of Jesus. I grew up in this Church. My dad was a priest. I was fortunate to grow up in the Episcopal Church but to have a dyedin-the-wool, rock-ribbed Baptist grandma. And I grew up in a family where our faith was real. It was just part of the world we lived in. I know that’s a different era. I know that, but I came to know something
MBC: I’ve been around long enough
about Jesus of Nazareth in this church,
to know you’ve got to go in and you’ve
and I believe in that Jesus, and I believe in
got to listen and learn. I’m clear about
this church. This is a good church. We’ve
the mission, but listen and learn. You get
got challenges ahead of us, but like my
to learn about the people who are there,
grandma used to say, we’ve got a good God,
how the place operates, how the system
too, and I think as Bishop Barbara Harris
works, and then slowly you begin to piece
likes to say often, the God behind you is
it together, not just by yourself, but you
greater than any problem ahead of you, and
bring together people who can help us all
I believe that. And so I kind of hope people
figure out how we move forward. The truth
will know that about me—that I believe
is, nobody does this by themselves. The
that the God behind us is greater than any
truth is Michael Curry doesn’t operate by
problem ahead of us.
himself. He can make a decision, and he
LW: As a primate of the Anglican
can lead, but we do this together.
various ways, I look forward to being a
Communion, given the difficult relations
LW: You were a member of the task force
over the last few years, how do you see
for reimagining the Episcopal Church. Can
those relationships shaping up going
you speak more about how the church can
In Matthew 25, in that [judgment] parable, Jesus assembles assembles all the nations before him, and to the righteous ones he says, “Come and enter the fullness of the kingdom, for I was hungry and you fed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was alone and you visited me.” … You can almost hear them beginning to wonder, “Well, we’re glad to be going to Heaven, but when did we see you hungry? I don’t actually remember seeing you, Lord, hungry or naked or alone.” And what does Jesus say? “Whenever you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you’ve done it to me.” That’s what Jesus said, and that’s where we have common ground—to do it to the least, the lost, the last, the lonely, the left out. This world is crying for us, and it needs us, and the Anglican Communion is one way that God uses us together to really make this a better world. So I’m ready to go to work. I’m ready to go to work. Wilson is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
| 31 | SEPTEMBER
PROFILE: THE ARTS
CAREER SHIFT PUTS STYLIST’S ART ON THE ROAD by Carol E. Barnwell Barbara Goodson is closing the loop after 37 years. Following a long career in the oil and gas business, she has returned to her first love—cutting and styling hair. But not just anyone’s hair—homeless men and women, the elderly or infirm who can’t make it to a salon or can’t afford a beauty shop visit, as well as women who have recently been released from jail. Goodson uses her artistry to lift spirits, to touch, to honor people who are not the usual clients at the local barber shop or beauty salon. “I remember Bishop [Andy] Doyle’s call to mission at Diocesan Council about reaching out and I felt prodded by God to move on an idea I’d had for many years: Have Shears Will Travel,” Goodson said. The oil company she worked for closed its doors at the end of March, a victim of falling oil prices, so Goodson heeded the “nudge,” got a website and took up her scissors. She immediately had appointments with Angela House, a ministry to women newly released from prison; Family Promise; Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM); and Brigid’s Hope at The Beacon, a ministry of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston. She had a couple of people lined up at Lord of the Streets homeless ministry recently and by the time she had
finished one or two cuts, a group of curious onlookers had joined the line for a new “do.” “I feel like a new person,” each said as they admired their new haircuts. Myra Mitchell, community outreach director at LOTS, was thrilled. “It is life affirming and builds esteem to give dignity through such a generous act,” she said. “It’s true that when your hair looks good, you feel good,” Mitchell continued. “Have Shears Will Travel makes life good for those who often must search deeply and endlessly for that good feeling.” Goodson started cutting her own hair at age 12. She experimented on her siblings, and her parents got regular trims through the years. Goodson got her license in 1978 and kept it current when she began working in the oil industry. While she was a member at Church of the Redeemer, Houston, a woman asked Goodson to cut her daughter’s hair. Nine-year-old Kayla had already lost a leg to the bone cancer she was battling. “I arrived to see her straggly hair, a remnant from chemotherapy. I sat her in a chair and did the best I could. When she looked in the mirror, she began to sing, ‘I feel pretty, oh so pretty …’” Kayla’s attitude in the face of her disease and her early
HAVE SHEARS WILL TRAVEL Like Barbara Goodson on FaceBook at
death changed Goodson’s life. “She was always chipper … She didn’t want her parents or her siblings to worry about her because she said, ‘I’m going to be with Jesus’,” Goodson remembers. “It made me not afraid of death. It changed my life.” Goodson petitioned the Texas Board to allow hairdressing services within a person’s home, using Kayla as her example of the need, and as a result of her efforts, guidelines were altered to allow stylists to attend to those unable to get to a salon. She has worked with the HAAM and others in her area to provide the service to people in need. Through the years, she has cut and styled hair for elderly shutins, for a couple who couldn’t afford the charges at their nursing home’s salon, for a woman who had just had her hip replaced and was homebound for a period of time. “I’m not a doctor,” she said, “but I believe my hairdressing has brought healing to those I’ve served. It has never failed that when I’ve attended to particularly an elderly person, their spirits are uplifted just to be touched
and loved and cared for in a personal way.” She hopes that her mobile salon services will “touch others with the love of Jesus.” Goodson attended Modern Barber College in downtown Houston because it was the only one she could afford. She saved every tip she received to purchase her tools. There was no end to the volunteers she found at Redeemer while she learned her trade. “People would line up for haircuts on Saturday,” she said. The first shave she gave with a straight razor was to a homeless man who had passed out by the front door of the barber college. “He was a good candidate and I did a good job,” she said. He left with uplifted spirits. Goodson, an active member of Christ Church, Atascocita, did not grow up attending Sunday school. “My parents went to the golf course on the weekends,” she said. In her early 20s, she “fell into the arms of the Episcopal Church” after a friend invited her to Redeemer’s coffee house where she doesn’t remember any coffee being served. “They sang songs and people shared their testimony. People were
sitting on the grass. I was mesmerized by what I experienced as the peace of God,” Goodson said. “I was captivated by the love of God, peace and the presence of caring people. The Holy Spirit was there.” The same Holy Spirit is with her when she offers others her own kind of loving care, she believes. “Have Shears Will Travel is a ministry. It is love that I am imparting because the Holy Spirit is with me all the time, why wouldn’t it be?” she says. “God has moved me to do this. I feel I am along for the ride.” Goodson now has 501(c)(3) status for Have Shears Will Travel and has added additional stylists to help her with a growing list of requests, including back-to-school haircuts for students through the Houston Police Department. She is also taking her clippers to several homeless ministries in Houston as well as Covenant House, an outreach to teenagers in the Montrose area of Houston. Her vision includes a self-contained mobile unit that can offer full services to her clients. Learn more at www. haveshearswilltravel.org.
| 33 | SEPTEMBER
Commitment Is Watchword for Mentors by Diana Dawson
the air: “To Diana, my mentor for life.”
On her last day of second grade, my little friend furiously scribbled numbers on notebook paper, wrinkled her brow and looked up. “I’ll throw your 100th birthday party,” she proclaimed. “I’ll be 51 then. And this is what I’ll do.” She pushed aside her plastic lunch tray with her trusty chocolate milk and half-eaten pizza, hopped up on the elementary school library table before I could stop her and threw her arms in 34 |
As this school year begins, the girl I mentor and I will begin our fourth year together. We became a pair when St. David’s, Austin, launched an arm of the national Kid’s Hope program, which promotes one church being paired with one school, one mentor with one child, meeting for one hour every week. In the last three years under the strong lay leadership of parishioner Kathy Labinski, our program has grown from four to 18 parishioners. Every one of them has his or her love story to tell. They know how much catsup their kid eats on the fries of a Happy Meal, worry about whether this one will ever read on grade level and that one will get the swim lessons needed to keep her safe. Because the girl I mentor has become one of the strongest students in her class, we don’t worry about subtraction or sentence structure. I simply show up to let her know that another adult in the world loves her and
believes in her. We’ve played word games together, drawn pictures, formed flowers out of Play-Doh, tossed a ball, read about Pete the cat and made Christmas presents for her mother. I know she loves orange Tic Tacs, has outgrown Hello Kitty but not One Direction and likes the color blue best. After her older brother died, she’s a mother bear about her younger one.
I’ve tracked her down, worked with the counselor and continued to show up for our weekly lunch. She’s been through the paces of being the new kid in school too many times. To smooth the last transition, I brought cupcakes for the class to celebrate her upcoming summer birthday, customized with her request of blue icing on chocolate and yellow icing on vanilla.
consistent, stable adult in her young life. I’m committed to the kid and I’m sticking with her until she tells me to go away.
When we began our relationship, this bright girl talked about her future in terms of cutting hair or working in a restaurant because that’s what she knew. My heart skipped a beat when she first asked if I could still be her mentor in college, too, and then suggested I stick around to mentor her when she got married and had kids and a cat.
I had to leave Kids Hope because I was outside of that one school-one church relationship, so I became certified by two different school districts. A week after she arrived at her third school, she ran down the hallway and jumped into my arms. “I thought you’d lost me,” she said, burrowing her head into my shoulder. The most recent school she attended tests the bounds of commitment. It’s 40 minutes one way and means that I work at least one night each week to make up for the time. But I know I may be the only
At the end of second grade, I got the offer to host my 100th birthday party. On the last day of third grade, she simply pressed her finger against my lips and shook her head as I began my annual spiel.
It’s not always easy. In the last five months of school this year, she went into foster care and moved from our usual school to four others. Each time
At the end of every year, I want to give her the space to say she’s outgrown me so I say, “With each new school year, you get new pencils, eraser, papers, books and a new teacher. You may have a new mentor, too, if you’d like. What do you think?”
“Shhhh,” she said, flashing a grin. “Only you.” Contact Smith-Henry at osdhat@gmail. com to learn more.
| 35 | SEPTEMBER
CHRIST CHURCH, NACOGDOCHES by Kim Foli
World View Benefits Nacogdoches Parish A healthy church is the outwardly focused church—one that reaches out to others in love. That’s the vision the Rev. Howard Castleberry brought to Christ Church, Nacogdoches, four years ago and the once declining congregation is growing. “I’ve tried to follow St. Francis’ adage, which is to preach to gospel and use words if necessary,” Castleberry said. “My goal when I first arrived was to get people thinking beyond themselves. Mission was the quickest way to get there,” said the former photojournalist. His assignments have taken him to many war-torn areas of the world, especially Africa. Castleberry created a Lenten lecture series that features inspiring speakers from around the world. The Rev. Johannes George, rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Alief, fled his home country of Sierra Leone during a long civil war. He was invited to speak about his life and of rescuing hundreds of orphans during his escape. The retired bishop of Pakistan, Mano Rumalshah, spoke of the persecution Christians suffer in his country. Bishop Valentine Mokiwa of Tanzania told Christ Church parishioners about women in his country who must walk three miles a day for water. Some have had to sell their bodies to pay for water. Bishop Mokiwa’s story struck a chord with the congregation. In five weeks, the church raised $50,000 to help dig wells in rural locations in Africa. Only $10,000 short of the cost to transport the drilling rig overseas, Castleberry purchased it and parked it in front of the church with a sign. “This rig is going to Africa,” it read. “Will you help us get it there?” “People just came in off the street,” he said, “and suddenly people were thinking more about mission than ever before.” The church employs four Tanzanians to run the operation, and they have now drilled 14 wells that provide fresh water for more than 17,000 people. “It’s easy to be into yourself; to be into what you think is important or to argue about worship styles, but without the context of visiting a third world nation, or listening to someone from there—it’s easy to get stuck,” Castleberry said. He primarily wants people to know Jesus Christ. Former senior warden Sean Kennedy is more involved in church than ever before, partly as a result of his work with the Tanzanian well project. A Nacogdoches resident for Photo: The Rev. Howard Castleberry
nine years, Kennedy said he’s seen the church change with the outward focus. He credits his own growth and that of the congregation to the outward focus as well. “That’s what you hope for,” Kennedy said. “It’s awesome to be doing outreach beyond the four walls of the church and the school campus, through doing mission work and trying to improve the lives of others and spread the gospel … that process [has not only] impacted people in Tanzania. It’s had a very positive impact on me, too.” “My level of understanding in our faith has grown significantly through our efforts to walk the faith,” he said. On weekends, members of Mobile Ministries in Nacogdoches work to fill the need for food on weekends when Meals on Wheels does not operate. Members of Christ Church cook and deliver about 20 meals door-to-door every weekend. Situated in the oldest town in Texas, Christ Church has been a part of the Nacogdoches community’s fabric since 1848, making it the second oldest parish in the Diocese of Texas. One of its most significant outreach programs is its pre-K to fifth grade school. Castleberry has plans to add another church service, one that may look a little less traditional. The church is one of only a few that continues to use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, in addition to the 1979 BCP for worship. The main service features one of the finest pipe organs in Texas and a talented choir augmented by voice students from Stephen F. Austin University. “We do traditional worship with excellence, and we love doing it,” Castleberry said, adding, “but we do hope to broaden our worship style.” Plans include an additional clergy person who will focus on young adults and the Spanish-speaking population of Nacogdoches. In four years, the average Sunday attendance has increased about 20 percent and the operating budget is up 70 percent, as well as the recent completion of a $1 million parish hall and youth area restoration project. “I hope that our story is an encouragement, especially for smaller parishes: to not underestimate what you can do,” he said. “If the Holy Spirit is behind it, big things can happen in small places.” Contact Smith-Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
| 37 | SEPTEMBER
CALENDAR & PEOPLE Calendar of Events SEPT
The Rev. Steve Capper is vicar of Lord of the Streets, Houston. The Rev. Cindy Clark, pastoral leader, Epiphany, Calvert. The Rev. Debbie Daigle retired as vicar at St. Paul’s, Kilgore. The Rev. Roy (Jeff) Davis, pastoral leader, All Saints’, Cameron. The Rev. Bob Dixon accepted the call as associate rector at St. Martin’s, Houston. Dixon was most recently the rector at St. Stephen’s in Brewton, Alabama. The Rev. Susan Drury finished her time as deacon at Trinity, Jasper, on June 30. The Rev. C. George McGavern is now rector at Good Shepherd, Tomball. He was formerly priest-in-charge . The Rev. Alberto Melis, deacon, St. Alban’s, Waco. The Rev. Warren Miedke is now deacon at St. Cuthbert’s, Houston, after serving at St. Aiden’s, Cypress. The Rev. Ralph Morgan accepted the call as rector at St. Cyprian’s, Lufkin. Morgan was formerly rector at Christ Church, Eagle Lake. The Rev. Anne Hooey (ret.) finished as interim rector at St. Alban’s, Austin, on May 31. The Rev. Mary Reddick, deacon, Ascension, Houston. The Rev. Portia Sweet is now deacon at St. Christopher’s, Houston, previously at St. Andrew’s, Houston. The Rev. Brian Tarver, curate, St. Dunstan’s, Houston.
Welcome your neighbors, friends and loved ones to church. Go to epicenter.org/invite for more details.
Seminary of the Southwest presents the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely for two days of lectures in Austin. ssw.edu/ blandy2015 for more detail.
CLERGY CONFERENCE Diocesan clergy gather at Camp Allen.
ADULT CHORAL FESTIVAL
Guest conductor Garmon Ashby of EHS and St. Thomas, Nassau Bay, will lead combined choirs. Visit epicenter.org/ musiccommission for more info.
ST. JAMES’ SILVER TEA
The annual fundraiser benefits St. James’ House, the Diocesan ministry providing independent and assisted living for older adults. Learn more at epicenter.org/cal.
PRESIDING BISHOP INVESTITURE
The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry will be installed as the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
To view a full calendar, go to epicenter.org/cal
The Rev. Steven M. Balke, Jr., curate, St. Paul’s, Waco. The Rev. John Carr, pastoral leader, St. Luke’s, Lindale. The Rev. Alexandra Easley, curate, Palmer Memorial, Houston. The Rev. Madeline Shelton Hawley, curate, St. James’, Austin. The Rev. Zachary G. Koons, curate, St. Richard’s, Round Rock. The Rev. Benjamin B. Maddison, curate, St. Alban’s, Waco.
The Rev. Billy F. Tomlin (ret.) died July 17 at St. James House, Baytown. He was a longtime resident and former chaplain of St. James House. Please keep the Tomlin family in your prayers.
A BBQ Cookoff at Grace, Houston, will benefit minority youth participation in diocesan events and leadership training. This event is sponsored by Grace and the Rev. John Epps Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.
KING OF THE GRILL
Labor Day Battle of the Holy Grill Benefits Minority Youth Involvement
4040 W. Bellfort Street Houston, 77025
Sponsorships are available. Contact Ayesha Mutope-Johnson at 713.446.5756 for further information.
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We will never really confront racism if we continue to view it as an “issue,” says the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedra...
Published on Sep 1, 2015
We will never really confront racism if we continue to view it as an “issue,” says the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedra...