E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sacred Ground, Come Sing With Our Kids, Looking Towards Lent and more in the E-Newsletter for February 9, 2020 – Available in full online here.

Haga clic aquí para ver el mensaje de esta semana en español de nuestro misionero latino, Luis Valencia. 

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
This week's message from Fr. Jared is reprinted from his cover for this month's Parish Page
Dear *|FNAME|*,

Over the past six months, we have had a powerful journey in our Sacred Grounds gatherings.

As the Episcopal Church describes it on the official page,

Sacred Ground is a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith.  Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.

The 10-part series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories.

Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society.  This series is open to all, and especially designed to help white people talk with other white people.  Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.
Throughout the course of this journey, we have covered a variety of topics, each of them in 2-3 hour sessions once a month on a Monday night, enabling truly to dive into these concepts (or, as I described the experience as our last gathering, to pull back the onion of race relations and prejudice in our country and see how extensive the rot goes).  We have explored:
  • How to have difficult conversations around race
  • The Roots of Whiteness and the relationship of European heritage to class, religious, and cultural conflicts
  • Whose Land? Exploring Indigenous History
  • Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery, including the roles played by the North and the Midwest
  • Whose Land? Exploring Latino history and the mestizaje (mixing) of indigenous with colonials, including the enslavement of indigenous people
This coming Monday, February 10, we'll be exploring "Americans, not Foreigners: Asian/Pacific American History." Even if you haven't participated yet, you are welcome to come. Most in our group have been walking this journey for half of a year now, but new folks are always welcomed in. 

And the importance of all this really struck home to me when I was attending the Public Comment section of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners meeting at the end of January. Because of an Executive Order by the Trump Administration, for Ottawa County to continue resettling refugees (something our church has done and which several churches have been doing for forty years), the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners would have to publicly publish a "Letter of Consent." 

As I sat through three hours of Public Comment, I was grateful for the many welcoming voices that urged the Commissioners to approve this Letter of Consent. I was especially grateful for my fellow pastors, coming from denominations like our own to denominations that are tremendously conservative—but all of us speaking with a unanimous voice on this question. And I was saddened by the third of those gathered who urged for a halting to this process, often using language that included thinly-veiled biases against people of other races or ethnicities. 

The Board of Commissioners (which is comprised of ten Republicans and one Democrat) wound up unanimously supporting that Letter of Consent. You can read a news article about it online here. A portion of my own remarks are cited, but you can read them in full here

I'm grateful to be in a church like The Episcopal Church, which has identified Racial Reconciliation as one of our three primary goals at this moment in our church's life. I'm glad ours is a church that has spoken publicly, and through our highest level of governance in General Convention about the Christian imperatives when it comes to immigration and refugees. And I know we have much more work to do before we find the Reconciliation God calls us all to.

I look forward to continuing that work together with you.

Through Grace,


Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 9, 2020 online here

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