God Loves You. No Exceptions.
A Letter to the Episcopal Church
From the Presiding Bishop, President of the House of Deputies
Confession, Repentance, and Commitment to End Racism Sunday
September 1, 2015
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
On June 17, nine members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, were murdered by a white racist during their weekly bible study. Just a few days later at General Convention in Salt Lake City, we committed ourselves to stand in solidarity with the AME Church as they respond with acts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice (Resolution A302).
Now our sisters and brothers in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church have asked us to make that solidarity visible by participating in “Confession, Repentance, and Commitment to End Racism Sunday” on Sunday, September 6. We ask all Episcopal congregations to join this ecumenical effort with prayer and action.
“Racism will not end with the passage of legislation alone; it will also require a change of heart and thinking,” writes AME Bishop Reginald T. Jackson. “This is an effort which the faith community must lead, and be the conscience of the nation. We will call upon every church, temple, mosque and faith communion to make their worship service on this Sunday a time to confess and repent for the sin and evil of racism, this includes ignoring, tolerating and accepting racism, and to make a commitment to end racism by the example of our lives and actions.”
The Episcopal Church, along with many ecumenical partners, will stand in solidarity with the AME Church this week in Washington D.C. at the “Liberty and Justice for All” event, which includes worship at Wesley AME Zion Church and various advocacy events.
Racial reconciliation through prayer, teaching, engagement and action is a top priority of the Episcopal Church in the upcoming triennium. Participating in “Confession, Repentance, and Commitment to End Racism Sunday” on September 6 is just one way that we Episcopalians can undertake this essential work. Our history as a church includes atrocities for which we must repent, saints who show us the way toward the realm of God, and structures that bear witness to unjust centuries of the evils of white privilege, systemic racism, and oppression that are not yet consigned to history. We are grateful for the companionship of the AME Church and other partners as we wrestle with our need to repent and be reconciled to one another and to the communities we serve.
“The Church understands and affirms that the call to pray and act for racial reconciliation is integral to our witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to our living into the demands of our Baptismal Covenant,” reads Resolution C019 of the 78th General Convention. May God bless us and forgive us as we pray and act with our partners this week and in the years to come. In the words of the prophet Isaiah appointed for Sunday, may we see the day when “waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.”
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church
Welcome to the Media Hub for the 2015 General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
Message from the Bishop
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Our hearts ache for the nine faithful souls murdered while worshiping Wednesday evening at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and for their families, friends, and loved ones who mourn the loss of their precious lives. I join you in prayer for the souls of the departed, and for the soul of the young man who killed them.
In the futile attempt to make some sense of so senseless an act of evil, I am wanting to categorize this as an isolated act of a solitary and deranged individual. But of course I cannot separate myself from it; it is a reflection of a social system in which I am complicit, by my action and my inaction alike. The depth of my heartache and yours is a measure of the inherent connectedness of the lives God has given us.
These nine Christian martyrs will have died in vain if our heartache does not lead us to challenge the culture of violence in which we all participate, in ways we are often unable and sometimes unwilling to recognize. In the fierce light of this tragedy, if we do not multiply our efforts to place the tolerance of others high above our tolerance of hostility, and place society’s responsibility to provide safety to all her members high above the individual’s access to tools of violence, we are abdicating our primary vocation to bring the kingdom of heaven to life.
May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, and may we not rest until that same peace reigns on earth.
Your companion in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
315 Wayne St.