The Bishop’s E-pistle: Good Lord, Deliver Us

“From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred and malice; and from all want of charity, Good Lord, deliver us…

“From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, Good Lord, deliver us.” (Great Litany, BCP page 149)

The fires in the Catalina Mountains (started by a lightning strike) have provided this week’s new crisis for many of our people. We pray for those who have been forced to evacuate and for those fighting the fires; that all may be kept safe.

The Great Litany is a catalogue of all that can harm us; and all the ways in which we can sin. In just these two petitions, I see our present moment:  immediate concerns of lightning and fire; continued plague and pestilence with the increasing cases of COVID-19 in Arizona; and the blindness of heart, hypocrisy, hatred, and want of charity that are the hallmarks of racism.

I believe with all crises, we are called to start with prayer, and then move to action. The Litany is a good prayer to begin with.

For an update on our actions around COVID-19, so far, 11 congregations have had their Phase II plans approved, and another 15 congregations have submitted initial plans and are in the process of revising them. However, due to the increase in COVID-19 infections statewide, none of our congregations have actually been able to enter Phase II. It is good to be prepared, and I pray that we will see a sustained decrease in infections primarily for the well-being and health of citizens of our state; but also so that our congregations can begin to regather safely face-to-face. In the meantime, I urge you to be safe: to wear a mask when in public; to keep a safe distance from others; and to stay home as much as possible.

Our gathering of masks, supplies, and funds for our Native American communities has been incredibly successful and appreciated; over 2,000 masks were donated; over $14,000 in contributions is being distributed; and 12 flights of supplies were delivered last week to the Hualapai tribe through the support of several congregations. Thank you.

Our Anti-Racism Committee has been hosting Listening Sessions all week, helping people process their anger, their grief, and their uncertainty about how to help bring about the systemic changes that would end racism in our nation. There is much more work to be done, at every level. By this fall, the revised Anti-Racism training that is mandated by General Convention for all clergy and lay leaders will be available in our diocese. We are called to examine our history as a church, and as individuals, and act as both church and citizens to effect change.

We are called to this work by the Gospel. For a fuller, reflection, I encourage you to read the words of Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Indianapolis.

I’ve heard from many of our congregations that they are recommitting to this work within their communities: starting Sacred Ground, opening conversations over Zoom. A list of resources can be found at on our website for opening conversations within your own congregation.

Personally, as a white woman who is the bishop of a diocese that is predominately white, I believe I have a particular call to encourage our white members to examine our privilege, and learn how better to work to end racism. To that end, I am starting a Bishop’s Book Club (BBC) to read White Fragility by Robin D’angelo. More information on how to join the BBC is below. This is a first step, not a whole action, but it is an important one, and I hope to see many of you there.

Bishop’s Book Club

White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin D’Angelo

Tuesdays, June 30-July 21 from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. (four sessions)

Episcopalians in the Diocese of Arizona are invited to join Bishop Reddall in a discussion of White Fragility over four Tuesdays in June and July. The book explores the obstacles to discussion of racism and action to end racism among white people. The Book Club will be an opportunity for personal and theological reflection. All are welcome, but the Bishop particularly encourages people to join who are new to anti-racism work, or who do not currently believe that racism is systemic and active.

Visit the registration page to sign up. The Book Club will be held over Zoom. Please have a copy of the book before the first meeting.