“We have to decide…”: Houses reflect together on racial reconciliation

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TBrownHere, Massachusetts deputy Thomas Brown reports on yesterday’s joint session on racial reconciliation and some of the day’s legislative highlights (with thanks to deputy Bill Parnell for these photos of our hardworking deputation, above, and racial reconciliation session speakers, below):

Joint sessions—when deputies and bishops meet together—are not a frequent occurrence at General Conventions, but at this particular one we are meetingArno Michaelis 2 IMG_1890 together several times. Friday morning’s joint session gave us opportunity to address racial reconciliation. It was an outstanding presentation in which several individuals told their stories, followed by each deputation speaking together about what Jesus is calling us to do (as individuals) and how the church can help us heal our racism. The first testimony was from Arno Michaelis, a former white supremacist and member of the KKK, who told his story of conversion from hate to forgiveness and compassion. The second was a young person from Austin, Charles Dawain Stephens, aka Chucky Black, who is a poet and rapper who presented his poem claiming the goodness of his family heritage. The third was from Dr. Chuckle Black IMG_1894Catherine Meeks from the Diocese of Atlanta, who is the director the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta and has spent her life helping people believe that God loves every person equally, and moving people ‘to decide that being well is more important than being white or black.’ A priest from Los Angeles, Nancy Frausto, is a ‘Dreamer’ who came across the border between Mexico and the United States when she was seven years old. Her witness helped me understand that if we are working for racial reconciliation, we must also work for justice in every other place and moment which requires truth telling. Read more via Episcopal News Service here[You can also watch it on demand on the Media Hub (click Catherine Meeks IMG_1895on “TEConversations”).]

“After the presentations we discussed in pairs our reactions, and also, how we hear Jesus calling each of us to reconciliation. Then, along with our three bishops, all eight deputies shared (or pledged) something about how our church can help us respond. I can’t say we have a great set of suggestions, only that we affirmed that to get started we ought to know each other’s stories. How might that happen in each of our faith communities?

“For my part, I offer this pledge: to help our diocesan community continue (or commence) these courageous Nancy Fausto IMG_1898conversations.  I am eager to dismantle my own racism, and to join with others in returning the world to peace, that is, in deciding that being well is more important than being white or black.

“In other news on Friday:  Compensation for the president of the House of Deputies was approved (read more here); the bishop of Honduras called out the General Convention for lack of language translation (read more here); and there was passionate testimony about Israel-Palestine (read more here).”

Schedule highlights for today, Saturday, July 7:  Joint Session on Evangelism at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and a revival-style worship service with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.  Watch on the Media Hub here.  Also, Episcopal Divinity School at Union will honor Bishop Barbara C. Harris today at a special luncheon.

The list of resolutions receiving legislative committee hearings today is available here.  The flow of resolutions out of committee and onto the floor of the houses for action is now increasing.  Track the progress of specific resolutions, by number or topic, here.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Sunday, July 8, a day of public witness:  Bishops United Against Gun Violence will host an outdoor public witness at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, followed by the convention daily Eucharist at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.  Then, convention-goers will board buses to the Hutto Immigration Detainment Facility for a prayer vigil at 1 p.m. Eastern.



One response to ““We have to decide…”: Houses reflect together on racial reconciliation

  1. the Rev. H Mark Smith

    Great to hear the voice of one of our delegates! Thank you, Thomas. (and Tracy) Perhaps there will be a chance to share this sharing and pledging back in the diocese–at convention? at 138 staff gathering?…

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