A Letter from Calvary's Rector and Associate
Dear Calvary Parish,
Tell me what to do.
What do I do next?
These are the two overwhelming responses I (
) have received as protests and riots have erupted and tensions flared around our nation since the killing of George Floyd. The people of Calvary want to know, “what do we do next?”
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is calling on the Episcopal Church to do this:
) have found myself over these past 11 days fixed to the news, filled with outrage and, at times, on the verge of weeping. These are responses I have been taught are “not proper” and “don’t serve me well” as a white woman in leadership.
But this is what I am feeling. And it’s what I’m hearing many of you are feeling, too.
“If there’s a place for tolerance in racial healing, perhaps it has to do with tolerating my own feelings of discomfort that arise when a person, of any color, expresses emotion not welcome in the culture of niceness. It also has to do with tolerating my own feelings of shame, humiliation, regret, anger, and fear so I can engage, not run. For me, tolerance is not about others, it’s about accepting my own uncomfortable emotions as I adjust to a changing view of myself as imperfect and vulnerable. As human.”
– Debby Irving, “Waking Up White”
Engage, don’t run. These are powerful words that have accompanied me (
) on my journey to unpack and dismantle the racism within me and around me since I first read them about five years ago. Irving reminds us that to be perfect is not the goal, but instead it is our obligation to “show up” to the conversation, messy and real and raw as we may feel. Our faith in Jesus Christ, I think, can help us in this regard. Yes, Jesus models what it looks like to stand in solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and persecuted. But what’s more, Jesus sees us in our vulnerability – in our humanness – and loves us unconditionally just as we are.
This unconditional love is not simply an invitation to the pure comfort of knowing God’s grace. It is rather an invitation to step into the discomfort of the unknown with the assurance that we are held in God’s love and strengthened by grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As a predominately white parish, we believe we have the moral obligation to renounce the forces of evil – namely racism and white supremacy – that terrorize our black siblings and impinge on their spiritual, physical, and mental wellbeing. However, we must do so, as the Prayer Book instructs “not only with our lips but with our lives.”
After all, the prophet Micah calls us to “do justice” and “love kindness,” not just to sit back and hope that someone else will make justice a reality. In a world where there is temptation to tune out and turn away,
we believe we ought to be compelled to call each other
rather than calling each other
. No individual among us, your priests included, has all of the answers.
we can explore our discomfort, our sadness, our confusion and hopes together, as one body knitted together in Christ.
And as we engage in this work, we are not starting from scratch. We bring to it the spiritual gifts that make us who we are as a community– gifts of prayer and passion, gifts of faith and formation.
So many at Calvary are committed to the practice of lifelong learning.
You are invited to Bishop Curry's challenge to Think. Pray. Act. Join us in an upcoming book study of Debby Irving’s book,
Waking Up White
Hopefully this will be an opportunity to hear one woman's story of deeper understanding and to uncover our own story around race. Through that process, we will discern toward what “next steps” God is calling us.
The author of
Waking Up White
, Debby Irving, is "coming to Calvary" virtually in July. Calvary will host a special workshop via Zoom where she will give us tools for transformation that will make a difference in the world.
Save the Date
Saturday morning, July 18 for the workshop.
As Christians, we have made a Covenant with God in our baptism to continue to learn, resist evil, spread Good News, love our neighbor, and seek justice and peace for every human being. We do not have all of the answers, but we do have the ability to work to fulfill what we have promised we will do. And we do this knowing that none of it is possible without God's help.
The Reverend Allison English
The Reverend Olivia Hamilton
, Rector Associate