We are writing to you with heavy hearts. We are writing with grief, outrage and anger over the killing of George Floyd and too many others that has so clearly exposed the deep seeded racial injustices that plague our country.
For the past several years, St. Andrew’s has been a community where we have openly explored and discussed topics prejudice, systemic racism, privilege and white supremacy. There have been sermons, book groups, forums and partnerships. Many of you have participated in the class offered by our partner NEHEMIAH, Black History for a New Day. Acknowledging and confronting racial injustice is not new to our community.
And yet, we believe we are being called to more. In this moment we believe the Church needs more than another book group or social media post. We must act and raise our voice against all forms of racial prejudice and injustice.
We are discerning how we will act and listening to the leadership of Black Pastors and Community Organizers, but here are actions we have already or are in the process of taking:
Fr. Andy has talked with The Rev. Joseph Baring, Senior Pastor at St. Paul AME, offering our support and voice.
We have accepted an invitation to clergy across Madison to be in conversation with a group of Black Pastors about ways we can support the needs of their communities.
This evening graduates of the class, Black History for a New Day, will be participating in an online gathering with the Rev. Dr. Alex Gee to consider how we might respond.
We have decided to designate $1,000 from the Clergy Discretionary Fund to Madison’s community bail fund to support people of color being held in the Dane County Jail because they are unable to make bail.
Our Outreach Committee has identifed two local organizations working on behalf of racial justice to be the recipient of our summer inGatherings. In June all inGathering funds will go to the African American Council of Churches, and in July the recipient will be the Clergy Discretionary Fund of the Hon. Rev. Everett Mitchell, Senior Pastor at Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church.
For the next six weeks we will be using a version of the confession in our liturgies written by People of Color and focusing on reconciliation and justice.
We pray that you will join us in actions and speaking out. We pray that you will be unsettled, disturbed and compelled to use your hands, feet, voice and wallet to do the work of justice and racial reconciliation.
As our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, wrote, “...we need not be paralyzed by our past or our present. We are not slaves to fate but people of faith. Our long-term commitment to racial justice and reconciliation is embedded in our identity as baptized followers of Jesus.”
Finally, we know that this work cannot be done overnight. The killing of George Floyd only exposed the deep systemic racism woven into the fabric of this country. We would be wrong to ignore the ways in which we as individuals and as The Episcopal Church have benefited from the color of our skin. This task of repentance and reconciliation will not disappear when the protests end. We must commit for the long road, knowing that we will find Christ there.
Let us recommit ourselves to following Jesus on the path of justice, healing and love.