Listening to our Leaders

In this time of awakening, this time of reflection within our nation and our national church, I believe we do well to listen to the voices which have been given voice throughout the U.S. Two such leaders are Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington and Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Indianapolis.

In a sermon preached in the National Cathedral on Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2020, Bishop Mariann spoke of this moment as a “crucible moment.” Noting that a ‘crucible’ points to a severe test or trial, Edgar Budde reminded us of the power of different elements interacting under pressure to test and transform.

Bishop Mariann helpfully pointed us to the witness of the 1st creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:4a. “Creation is not a one time event,” Edgar Budde reminds us. God is always present. Perhaps this is a “Kairos” moment, a moment of opportunity for a world “crying out for change.”

This time is “pregnant” with possibilities. Bishop Mariann quoted
the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian at the National Cathedral

Why the need for change? Bishop Jennifer recently gave a reflection on a Zoom meeting with bishops and canons from across the Episcopal Church. Offering her personal family story of growing up black on Staten Island, Bishop Jennifer said: “We were…living in a segregated space,” Baskerville-Burrows recounts. “White kids took the yellow school buses to our junior high school, and black and brown kids mostly took the city bus or walked the seven blocks to school.”

Have things shifted significantly? That’s questionable. “I’ve had police in my predominately white neighborhood run my plates. Yes, I’ve already had “the talk” with my nine-year-old black son about what to do if approached by the police and how he can’t play with water pistols like his white friends. Here’s the thing, every black and brown person in this country, on this call, in our congregations, has stories like these.”

Baskerville-Burrows encourages these stories to be told to a cross-section of society. It’s important that “the stories of racial trauma” are told now, now that people are being empowered to change. Bishop Jennifer commends “hope and challenge” as “two sides of the same coin.” It’s not going to be easy, but this “gospel work” of”changing policies embedded in racist structures” is going to be life-transforming work for our nation and the world.

Published by Christopher Golding

Chris Golding is an Australian ex-pat, vegan priest, spouse to Julia, and father to Phoebe and James. Christopher is currently the Associate Priest of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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