Christ Church Parish
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ALL IN-PERSON ACTIVITIES ARE SUSPENDED
UNTIL THE END OF THE COVID19 EMERGENCY
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starting in September 2020 (click below)
Priest's Letter - June 2020
The events that are shaking the nation are on my mind as, I am sure, on yours. The killing of George Floyd is only the latest blatant example of the disregard for the life of black people to which this country is accustomed. The Episcopal Church has long taken a stance against racism, and more recently against the poisonous, white supremacist talk that has resurfaced in political speech-- its toxicity being all the more dangerous because not all white people are able to recognize it.
In the past, the Episcopal Church was itself deeply enmeshed in racist practices. In the 18th and 19th century you could be an Episcopalian and "own" another human being. By the grace of God, we are different today. But if we truly are to be different, we have a role to play. When the phrase "Black Lives Matter" is used, we ought to understand and make others understand. It is not meant to say that other lives don't matter, but that black lives and persons, historically and presently, are often viewed as inferior, and regularly treated as dispensable. This is a legacy of slavery which has been hard for this country to toss. We of course condemn all forms of violence, but if we hear that looting is bad and ought to be stopped in any possible way, we should at minimum be able to reply yet more passionately that killing people in the streets is far worse. Coming from another cultural context, I have been always surprised by the restraint of the black community when such egregious acts happen. I am not praising nor condemning such restraint, recognizing it as too complex a issue for me to address.
I take comfort today in the words and actions of three young people:
Alicia Lambert, who grew up in our parish, has been very active on Facebook trying to help white people understand and giving helpful reading suggestions that you will find below under the title "Readings for those who do not want to be racists".
Andrew Lindvall, who also grew up in our parish and lives in Minneapolis, has been spotted there delivering food to people, protesters or not, living in the most affected neighborhoods.
Matthew Swartz, who touched our common life very briefly as a candidate to the organist position, has written the following lines as a white person:
We’ve come a long way since our beginnings in primordial ooze (or hydrothermal vents?) – but we face a critical time to nurture the future of our humanity.
We’ve seen that the human race, in all of its hues, is but one organism in the indiscriminating eyes of a globalized virus.
We’ve seen that one hue is disproportionately affected over another in just one demonstration of the inequality at work in our society.
When we allow ourselves to tolerate the suffering of another, we all suffer.
When one of us is made to suffer at the hands of another, we all suffer.
When that suffering is willfully inflicted solely on the basis of color, we all lose some of our humanity.
The need for the specificity that black lives matter is altogether too chronic. We can and must do better. We need to change.
I realize that I am one of many who can’t claim to know what it’s like to face this kind of adversity, but I will continue to do my best to offer empathy, compassion, and support for those who are striving in peaceful solidarity to move towards a better society. May you continue to be seen and heard.
These are also my sentiments.
Our parish had in the past, and has at present, black people in leadership positions. This is a good thing, and yet our awareness of systemic exclusion and oppression needs to develop further. It is too easy to reject as "political" the calls to deeper understanding.That serves nothing. As I hope you have noticed, I have often been critical of liberal smugness just as of conservative hardness of heart. These issues cut much deeper than political parties. When political leaders cross lines of decency to debase other human beings, use their power for personal gain, or use the name of Jesus Christ for political gain, the church must respond forcefully. I call all parishioners to reflect deeply about the events that this nation is going through and start from the position that our preconceived notions warrant examination.
CHRIST CHURCH PARISH - 1127N San Antonio Avenue, Ontario, California, 91762