May 5, 2017

Openness, Humility Needed to Address Racial Justice

In her address to the 2017 Assembly, Bishop Claire Burkat broke open possibilities to embody racial reconciliation in the work of congregations and the synod at large. Drawing from themes introduced in her sermon, the bishop encouraged those gathered to be “more open to engage, to explore, to repent, to be humbled, to align ourselves with this incredible and abundant new life in Christ.”

The bishop called for a “portable vision” that can be carried with us wherever we go.

“A vision more permeable, more accessible, more egalitarian, more authentic, more mobile, and certainly more communal than the shape of the church of the 20th Century, which means no person, no group, not even the church will be able to contain it.”

Noting the sweeping changes in church and society, the bishop announced the synod’s new ministry Brave New Church, created “to equip congregations to be pioneers of a bold, new kind of church for a rapidly changing world.” To support congregations, bravenewchurch.org, “a hub of resources and conversation partners is available to engage challenges and opportunities of ministry in a brave new world.”

Calling upon a favorite image for the people of God, the bishop invites people once again to be ambassadors of Christ and ambassadors of racial reconciliation, where listening and relationship-building are the focus for our work.

“I’m hoping that next year at this time we can look back and be able to tell the stories of how God is working on our hearts, our relationships, our churches – calling us to be ambassadors of Christ. I want us to look back at this time and realize that Christ is in our midst, just as he was with the disciples at Emmaus. I want us to look back and say, were not our hearts burning within us?’ — Rev. Katherine Knodel

 
Some thoughts from the bishop about listening…
 
If a person of color trusts and loves you enough to share a tiny fraction of their pain, listen to them. Do not interrupt. Hear their stories. Believe them when they tell you about their experiences. Don’t try to change the subject back to you. A person of color willing to trust and share should not have to worry about hurting your feelings. Remember that the unease or stress and pain you are experiencing is only a tiny fraction of what most people of color experience every day.

So once you have listened, and listened deeply, ask — how can I do better? Ask what needs to be done. This movement of racial reconciliation can’t just be about changing hearts and minds. There needs to be action.

Our anti-racism team is here to help our whole synod get started on this. There are resources, books, videos, and real, live people of courage and compassion who are willing to teach and walk wit everyone as we begin to reform our hearts for such a time as this.

from the Bishop’s Address, May 5 2017

Some thoughts about vision from the Bishop…

  • Vibrant, visionary communities of faith make room, and time, and set aside funds to strengthen spirituality and form faith in all sorts of ways for all sorts of people, coming from all sorts of places, any old time.
  • Vibrant, visionary communities are present and attentive in their neighborhoods, care about their neighbors, not for membership but because we are ambassadors for Christ, who is making his appeal through us.
  • Vibrant, visionary communities are collaborative with ecumenical and Lutheran partners, social ministry organizations and helping agencies because they recognize no congregation can go it alone these days. It is not a competition.
  • Vibrant, visionary communities make room to celebrate what God is doing through the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives and neighborhoods of the people.

from the Bishop’s Address, May 5, 2017