In our Juneteenth letter we also called the people of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to join us in a brief online service of prayer and reflection on the Fourth of July at 9:00 am as we dedicate ourselves to pursuing genuine freedom and independence for all Americans.
We also invited the people of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to stand up for the dignity and full humanity of Black people in the United States by supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Here a word on how we understand Black Lives Matter might be helpful. For us as white people, our support of Black Lives Matter begins with the recognition that Black people in the United States suffer and die because of the ongoing sins of racism, white-supremacy, and anti-Black bias. These sins fundamentally deny the fullness of the image of God in Black people and result in death-dealing violence as recently witnessed in the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Such violence is fundamentally evil and the work of the devil. As followers of Jesus, we are called to stand in the face of evil and do all in our power to bring about God’s kingdom of justice and love for all.
Our support of Black Lives Matter is because we are followers of Jesus. It is our commitment to a spiritual metanoia, a turning around, that de-centers ourselves as white Americans and turns our focus on recognizing and celebrating Black Americans as created in the image of God and thus deserving of the fullness of life guaranteed by the incarnation of Jesus Christ and promised by our nation. As your bishops, we promise to seek to be about this work of transformation at the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural level. While we encourage you to consider displaying a Black Lives Matter sign in front of your church building as a statement of your commitment to this work, what is more important for us is to understand fully what this movement is truly about, and the importance of staying away from just performative ally-ship. Our call to action as a predominantly white church that has been closely tied to the history of the United States, and thus complicit with and profiting from white-supremacy, is not just to make verbal commitments. It is to inherently change.
As part of that change, the metanoia we are called to as the Body of Christ, our 2018 ECCT Annual Convention committed the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to a season of “Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation.” While significant work has been done during this season to confront and overcome the sins of racism, white supremacy, and anti-Black bias, much work remains for us to do. The resolution affirming Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation can be found here
We give thanks for your faithful leadership of the parishes of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut as together we seek the life-giving ways of Jesus in the midst of the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, white supremacy, and anti-Black violence. We pray that God will continue to use all of us as instruments of God’s peace.
A prayer attributed to St. Francis from the Book of Common Prayer, page 833:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens