The Bishop’s E-pistle: Hope and Grief

One of the unexpected hopes I’ve discovered in the last few months arising from the renewed national attention on racial justice has been a broad ecumenical coalition of churches standing up to take action to end racism. This Saturday, I will join with other bishops and clergy from evangelical/megachurches, Black churches, Roman Catholics, and mainline Protestants for “From Chaos and Crisis to Community in Christ: The Church addresses systemic racism through Confession, Repentance, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Commitment.”

Pastor Warren Stewart of the First Institutional Baptist Church, which is coordinating the event, refers to this as a kairos moment–a moment of time that is God’s time breaking through upon our ordinary, chronos-scheduled days. In all my years of ministry, I can count on one hand (actually, I can count on one finger) the times that I have worked with evangelical/megachurches on a justice issue. We are so often at odds with one another over real and fundamental differences in understanding what it means to follow Jesus faithfully, and what God’s justice on earth looks like.

But this moment, this kairos moment, is bringing us together, shoulder to shoulder, to testify to our participation in and complicity with the sin of racism, and our intention to work in a unified way to bring about racial justice. I find it hopeful. And maybe this one hope will lead to other hopes for justice.

Tune in online on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. to pray, witness, and commit with me and other Christians to dismantling racial injustice.

One of the greatest griefs of the last few months has been our inability to gather for funerals. Whether a loved one has died of COVID-19, or from any other cause, we have been unable to gather to grieve and pray, except in very small groups, and without the usual music and ritual that help us find solace and comfort.

We will be hosting an online diocesan memorial service for all those who have died during the pandemic in mid to late August. Music will be provided by “virtual choirs” from around the diocese, including two pieces that are open to all Arizona Episcopalians.

If you would like to submit a name of a loved one who has died during the pandemic to be read during the service, you can do so to our receptionist, Serrena Addal.

I am grateful to the organists and choirmasters from around the diocese who are contributing their gifts and skills to this, especially Joey Ripka from All Saints’ (Phoenix) and Erik Goldstrom from Trinity Cathedral (Phoenix). More information on how to participate as a musician will be sent out soon.

This is not a substitute for that in-person gathering that will help family and friends grieve. But it is a way to gather and focus our prayers, and encounter our sure and certain hope in the resurrection. Grief and hope together, once more.