The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin
Rector , St. Columba's
Episcopal Church
Washington, DC
Beloved in Christ,
This wound is not new. This sin is not new. Yet, as a people, as a nation, as followers and disciples of Christ, we cry out with collective pain when it is torn open again, and again, and again. If there is anything surprising in the news--and this may only be surprising to those of us who are white--it is the lethal combination of such blatant, public expressions of racist hatred and vitriol, coupled with the president's moral equivocation and ultimate condoning of evil. Neither the sin nor the wound are new.

But as this is true, it is also true that the love of God is everlasting and all-embracing. I joined with preachers across the nation on Sunday in affirming that, " There is no place in this or any society for the racist evil espoused by white supremacists. You and I are not indifferent; we cannot be silent. Neither shall we succumb to meeting hatred with hatred.  Beloved, now is not the time for fear, now is not the time for silence. Now is the time for love, deep love, strong love, abiding love, love from God that courses through our hearts and souls, our hands and decisions. Take action today. Wherever you are, whoever you're with. Catch someone up in your arms today. Hold and hug them in justice and in the love of God coursing through you." It is important for each of us to speak up in our voice, in our own circle of family, friends, and neighbors.

I write today for two reasons. One is to offer an open heart, a listening ear, a warm embrace, and a holy prayer. If you desire any of these, I am here for you, as are my fellow clergy and staff colleagues of
St. Columba's.

I also write to invite you to remember your calling as disciples of Jesus and to center yourself in the love of God. Let's remember that Jesus always sought out the most vulnerable, marginalized, and despised people in his community; he stood up and spoke truth to the powerful; he named evil when he encountered it; offered forgiveness to those who repented; and he embraced one and all in love. As Jesus bore witness to love in his life, there are specific t hings you and I can do:
Pray. Begin each day with even the simplest of prayers in your own words: thank God for a new day and ask God to show you the way to love everyone you meet this day.
Worship. Come to church this Sunday (if you're not in DC, go to church wherever you are), mindful that worship is a radical act that affirms and invokes the presence of God whose ways are not our ways and whose love conquers all fear.

Love. Treat everyone with respect and love--everyone: on the street, at the check-out counter, on line, at home.
Learn. (If you're a white person) educate yourself about systemic racism in this country and about white privilege. If we're not actively resisting racism, then we're actively complicit in perpetuating it. Read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Between the World and Me by
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, or anything by James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, or Martin Luther King, Jr. (If you have other recommendations, please share). Look for upcoming opportunities hosted by Stirring the Waters: A Racial Justice Ministry at
St. Columba's.

Act. Turn your heart-felt distress into a commitment to action. Some of us will lay claim to our prophetic inheritance to speak out and resist in word, body, and soul. My own action will be to forge relationships between our congregation and others that are predominantly non-white. We don't have this kind of partnership right now and I am feeling an absence; I want to be arm in arm-- not just in these moments of crisis, but in ongoing relationship. It's important we respond in the moment; it's essential we commit to a sustained response.

May the love of God envelop and embolden you, and be a light on your path.

St. Columba's | 4201 Albemarle St., NW | Washington, DC 20016 |