The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, meeting in retreat March 11-15 in Navasota, Tex., unanimously approved and issued on March 15 the following "Word to the Church" regarding "the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric" and calling for "prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail and we will not betray our true selves." The full text follows below.
The bishops of the Diocese of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates and the Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, on March 16 commended the House of Bishops' "Word to the Church" to the people of the diocese with the following message:
Dear People of the Diocese of Massachusetts,
Your bishops have spent the past five days on retreat with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. It has been an important time for the House, marking as it does the first time we have gathered under the leadership of our new presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry.
Much of our time has been spent in prayer, Bible study and conversation about how we will work together with our new leader. However, we have also been mindful of, and gravely concerned about, the increasingly divisive tone in public discourse and manifestations of an undercurrent of violent intolerance in our nation. The full House has adopted unanimously a "Word to the Church" on this matter.
The statement is framed in the language and theology of Holy Week, into the journey of which we are about to embark. We urge the widest possible distribution of this statement from your bishops to those in our congregations, whether it be read out at Sunday services, distributed in printed form or via e-mail, shared on your Web sites and Facebook pages, or any combination of these avenues.
On a recent Sunday we heard the words of the Apostle Paul, reminding us that “God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, has given us the ministry of reconciliation, … so we are ambassadors for Christ.” [II Corinthians 5:18-20]
May we be courageous ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation.
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan
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Holy Week 2016
A Word to the Church from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church
"We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others.”
On Good Friday the ruling political forces of the day tortured and executed an innocent man. They sacrificed the weak and the blameless to protect their own status and power. On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead, revealing not only their injustice but also unmasking the lie that might makes right.
In a country still living under the shadow of the lynching tree, we are troubled by the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric. Americans are turning against their neighbors, particularly those on the margins of society. They seek to secure their own safety and security at the expense of others. There is legitimate reason to fear where this rhetoric and the actions arising from it might take us.
In this moment, we resemble God’s children wandering in the wilderness. We, like they, are struggling to find our way. They turned from following God and worshiped a golden calf constructed from their own wealth. The current rhetoric is leading us to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege. We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and we must seek the common good above all else.
We call for prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail and we will not betray our true selves.