Rector’s Book Study, Outdoor Worship, SJE Swag and more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 6, 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 our Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
It's become abundantly clear over theses past several weeks that we have a problem.
Many of us have known that there are issues of racism embedded in the systematic fabric of our society. At St. John's we've tried to walk through and engage these in a variety of ways. We've long collaborated with the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, and I've served on their team for Northwest Ottawa County. We've done book studies on amazingly powerful works like Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book was named one of TIME Magazine's ten best nonfiction books of the decade and I know it forever altered how I perceive the world. We led Sacred Ground Gatherings last fall and spring, using the framework provided by the Churchwide Office of the Episcopal Church, and almost completed the series until COVID shut us down.
The continued protests, the continued deaths of unarmed black citizens at the hands of police and now white vigilantes, has made it clear that we are far from complete in this work. We have a long way to go as a country and, as Christians, our baptismal covenant compels us to be an active part of the solution. After all, the final question of the Baptismal Covenant is key, "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?" We respond every time we renew our baptismal vows, "I will, with God's help."
My Monday night Introduction to the Hebrew Bible class will be on vacation the next two weeks (Labor Day and then some time off I'm taking for my birthday). When we return on Monday, September 21, it won't be to the Hebrew Bible class. Instead, it will be a four-week Rector's Book Study on Jim Wallis' stunning book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.
The book has been praised by many, including the legendary Cornel West, who writes, "Jim Wallis is a visionary veteran in the struggle against white supremacy. In this powerful book, he calls for a new conversation and action on the ground—in our homes, churches, sports arenas, and schools—in order to be true to the best of who we are." One of the most powerful endorsements I've read came from Shane Claiborne who writes
Jim Wallis has a fire in his bone and cannot be silenced. In this landmark book, he takes on one of the most important issues of our age, America's original sin—racism. But this isn't a rant. It is a thoughtful, heartfelt, compassionate plea for us to heal the wounds of racial injustice and build a new America, and a new world, together.I hope you'll order the book and join me in this journey of listening, learning, repentance, and discovering how we can act on the ground to combat racist structures and systems. There will be an email group for conversation as well. If you'd like to be a part of that, you can sign up online here. You can also use that form to request that I order a book for you, if cost is prohibitive. To prepare for our first session on Monday, September 21, please read the introduction and chapters one and two.
We must do better as a nation. We must do better as a church. And the work begins right here, in our own hearts and in our own community. Join me.
Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 6, 2020 online here.
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