Two groups of people in our community, along with the people who love them, are hurting this week: Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI people), and LGBTQ people.
This week, our country witnessed yet another act of racial violence, directed against Asian-American women in Atlanta. We grieve with the families of those killed, while we pray for relief from fear and sorrow for all those of AAPI descent. Christians condemn any murders, but murder directed against members of a particular race should hit Christians very hard. We worship a God who created all humans in the divine image, and we follow a Savior who commanded that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Over and over in the Bible, we are told that we are called to do justice in the name of the God who erases divisions between people. Paul says in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” And in our own baptismal covenant, we vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”
For LGBTQ people, who have so often been hurt by the church, this week brought another reminder of that painful history. To our LGBTQ siblings in Christ, I would like to say: you are welcome here. I am glad to be part of a church that honors the gift of love in same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. And I honor my many friends who have chosen to enter the commitment of marriage to love and cherish another human being, created in God’s image. I am saddened that many LGBTQ people have been hurt this week, and I offer my prayers and continued support.
Our church has paid careful attention to the issues of sexism and marriage equality over the past few decades. But under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, we are just now beginning to address our issues with racism. We cannot deny that our own church is overwhelmingly white, and that the Episcopal Church has participated in racist structures throughout its history. Recently, in meetings, conversations, and personal realizations, I have come to understand, more than ever before, how urgent the work of anti-racism is in our church. I ask you to join me, not only in condemning racist violence when it happens elsewhere, but also in working to understand how racism affects our community and our church today, and dismantling unjust structures wherever they occur. I want to help our church overcome our racist past and our sad lack of diversity today, because the church of Jesus can best do its mission when we reflect the glorious diversity of God’s children. I hope that we can participate in opposing the racist and unjust structures that prevent so many of God’s children from flourishing in our world. And I pray that together our church can join in the great project of removing the barriers between people that God has given to us in Christ Jesus.