Ever since the string of shootings in the last couple of weeks in the U.S., I have been in conversations with many leaders in my church denomination, The Episcopal Church, exploring ways to respond that would be meaningful and impactful. One of those conversations bore fruit!
This week, Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese wrote an article for the diocesan newsletter laying out an approach that can engage our communities across southern California to enter into constructive and gracious dialogue on race relationship. This project will be co-sponsored by the various groups in the diocese that have been active in addressing this issue: the Program Groups on Multicultural Ministries which includes Black Ministry, Asian Ministry, Hispanic/Latino Ministry, and Native American Ministry.
I have included the article here and I would love to explore implementing similar projects with my friends in the dioceses, conferences, synods, presbyteries and associations of the many Christian denominations and faith communities.
Building bridges, not barriers
By J. Jon Bruno
The only way we are going to see change in our increasingly violent world is by building bridges, not barriers, between cultures, economic systems and faith communities, among other societal groups.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, to do good to those who hate us — even in the face of violence such as this summer’s unprecedented number of horrific terror attacks around the world, escalating gun violence in America’s cities, and uncertainty such as that fueled by the Brexit vote.
This issue of The News illustrates ways in which our diocesan community is reaching out, especially to immigrants and refugees, in efforts to provide places of stability, mercy and hospitality among our human family. One family at a time, one individual at a time, we are seeking to ease suffering and offer hope as best we can, courageously and creatively. In 2002 I chose to focus my ministry as your bishop on the theme “Hands in Healing.”
Together, especially in these troubled times, let us continue to reach out as Jesus’ own hands and heart, bringing peace and understanding without fear or hesitation.
In this regard, I am encouraged by the ministry provided by our diocesan Kaleidoscope Institute. Please see the following message that also appeared earlier this month in the weekly editions of The News.
A new invitation to dialogue on race relations
Our congregations are places where people can come together and discuss race relations and the tensions that have increased especially since the recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas.
According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll on the subject, 69% of Americans believe that race relations nationally are suffering deep discord — the same percentage expressed the same view in 1992 following the L.A. civil disturbances sparked by the verdict in the Rodney King case.
Clearly, we have much work to do, and fortunately in Southern California we have the resource of the diocesan Kaleidoscope Institute, led by the Rev. Canon Eric Law, who has been helping us make progress in these areas — both locally and nationally — for the past two decades. Earlier this month, Eric and I spoke about ways in which the Kaleidoscope Institute can help members of the diocesan community and wider population address the issues of the present time.
“Imagine every church and ministry in the diocese as a gracious place for truth-seeking on race and other important issues of our time,” Eric said, setting the stage for far-reaching efforts in which our congregations can become involved. “This movement will enable the diocese to not only empower every local community to move toward wellness and reconciliation but also enable our churches and ministries to be truly missional — manifesting Christ to our broken world.”
Specifically, Eric proposes that every parish, mission and ministries in the diocese invite a team of at least two people to be trained as dialogue facilitators. The Kaleidoscope Institute will provide the training both via the internet (webinars) and in person in the form of a full-day workshop. The facilitation team will be trained to:
- Invite people from the local neighborhood community (including law enforcement personnel if possible) to come to a dialogue on race.
- Create a gracious environment in which participants feel safe and also challenged to speak their truth of their experience of race in light of recent events.
- Facilitate constructive dialogue to achieve mutual understanding (not debate) through deep listening.
- Form local communities consisting of church members and neighborhood people who may continue to dialogue, moving toward greater social and spiritual wellness as a community.
The Kaleidoscope Institute is providing an in-person full-day facilitator training in two different locations of the diocese on Aug. 20 and Sept. 10, in addition to a series of on-line trainings for potential facilitators who are not able to make these training sessions in person.
If you would like specific information about these offerings, please visit the Kaleidoscope Institute to register, or contact Eric Law directly at eric.law@ kscopeinstitute.org, or phone 213.482.2040, ext. 216.
I commend these resources to you and to your congregation. Pastorally and personally, both as a bishop and as a former police officer, I appreciate the cultural and professional sensitivities that the Kaleidoscope Institute brings to this important work of mending torn societal and interracial fabric in our communities. Let us all continue to work and pray for God’s presence and peace among us as we reach out to one another with hands outstretched in healing.
Reflection Questions for Proper 12 (Year C)
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Upcoming Opportunities to Study with The Sustainist and learn more about Holy Currencies and Gracious Leadership:
August 4-6, 2016
October 23-27, 2016
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