Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

Bishop's Writings

EDOW Strategic Planning

January 31, 2019

‘Listen!” Jesus said. “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. . . Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ And Jesus said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Mark 4:1-9

Many thanks to all who were present at Diocesan Convention. In my address, Becoming Good Soil, I invited all congregations to take part in a diocesan wide strategic planning process and I write to ask your participation in this holy work. My prayer is that as we take stock of our strengths and challenges as a church--where we see fruitfulness in our ministries and where we struggle--the Holy Spirit will clarify our vision of God’s preferred future for the Episcopal Church in the varied communities and contexts of our diocese. From that vision, it will be our task to establish mutually-discerned goals in each region and invest our resources toward their accomplishment.

As your bishop, I remain convinced that the work of becoming good soil in our congregations is best accomplished working together rather than separately. Working together, we can identify and strengthen ministry opportunities few congregations can realize on their own. The planning process will also help us determine how best to invest collective diocesan resources.

We are in the process now of establishing leadership teams for each of the eight regions of the diocese. Over the next two months, each team will determine how best to engage the regional congregations and convene a discovery session. We’re working to schedule all the regional discovery sessions in the Lent and Easter seasons (March-May), and we will publish those dates as soon as possible.  

There is also a congregational component in the strategic planning process. We have engaged the consulting and coaching services of The Unstuck Group, a Christian organization that assists congregations and judicatories to invest in health and overcome obstacles to growth. As part of our collective work, every congregation has the opportunity to invest in its own soil.

If you have not already done so, I invite you to take the Unstuck Group’s online parish assessment. It provides a starting point for conversation as you identify where your congregation falls on a life cycle common to all churches. From that assessment, both clergy and laity can make prayerful and strategic decisions about next steps in leadership.

All EDOW congregational leaders may take an online leadership course, Leading an Unstuck Church, free of charge (normally a $500 charge per congregation). The course includes 12 sessions, ideally suited for vestry meetings or other leadership bodies. This is an investment in your leadership, so that congregational ministries may flourish. Ms. Mildred Reyes, EDOW Missioner for Formation is your point of contact to enroll in Leading an Unstuck Church. You may register with her via email.

For those inspired to make an even deeper commitment, there is the option of a year-long strategic planning process, supported by both the Unstuck Church Group and the Diocese, which would be customized to your parish and would include opportunities to form learning cohorts with other congregational leaders.  

I welcome your thoughts as this process unfolds. Feel free to contact me anytime.

May God continue to bless us all as we tend to our soil in faithfulness to the One who sows the seeds of life within and among us all.

Becoming Good Soil: 2019 Diocesan Convention Address

January 26, 2019

‘Listen!” Jesus said. “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Mark 4:1-9 

I speak you today about the work of becoming good soil.

In December 2017, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invited a small group of leaders to help him think through an issue on his mind. This was six months before his sermon at the Royal Wedding made him the most famous Episcopalian on the planet. But his sermon wasn’t news for us. Bishop Curry has inspired the Episcopal Church with his preaching for years. Since his election as presiding bishop in 2015, he has been a one-man revival, traveling around the country and the world, calling upon us and every member of the Episcopal Church to renew our commitment to Jesus and his gospel of love.  

The Presiding Bishop describes himself as our C.E.O.-- Chief Evangelism Officer. He speaks of following Jesus with passion and joy. That’s what the world is responding to--his joy in following Jesus, even as he unflinchingly engages the most challenging and controversial issues of our time. He’s not afraid to talk about race, about gun violence prevention, about the scandal of separating children from their parents at the border, but he does so in the context of his commitment to follow Jesus in the way of love. “The church is a movement,” he says any chance he gets, urging us to think of ourselves the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. Every time he says that, we all cheer.

But the reason he wanted to meet back in December of 2017 was that he realized the Episcopal Church was, in many ways, stuck, and that his preaching alone would not make us unstuck. Our church needed a revival of faith embedded in our personal lives, in our structures for the church’s ministry, and an outwardly focused commitment to love, as Jesus loves, our neighbors, and foreigners, and our enemies.

So the Presiding Bishop wanted to talk evangelism strategy. For two days, a dozen of us prayed and wondered together how best to be faithful to Jesus and his movement. What more could the Presiding Bishop do? What could we do, not just to ensure the survival of our churches, but  that we as a people might become more joyful, loving, and compelling in our witness as followers of Jesus?

Part of the problem, we told ourselves--maybe you’ve told yourself this--is that we Episcopalians, in general, don’t like to talk about our faith. As a whole, we don’t invite our friends to church very often. And while every Episcopal congregation likes to think of itself as warm and welcoming, the data suggests otherwise. We acknowledged that, as a denomination, we can be rather inflexible when it comes to our preferences in church. Our preferences may be fine, but starting with them may not be the most fruitful approach to evangelism. On and on we talked about what we could do better, how we might try harder.

Finally, someone asked the Presiding Bishop what was his greatest concern. He was quiet for a moment. “As I travel around the church,” he said, “I worry that the majority of our people don’t know for themselves the unconditional love of God. I worry that the reason they’re hesitant to speak of Jesus is because they don’t know him, really. I know that we need to learn to be more welcoming, to stand for justice, and do all sorts of things,” he said, “but I wonder if our people could use a bit more Jesus.”  

He didn’t get any argument from us. There wasn’t a person around that table who didn’t need a bit more Jesus, including me. I found myself thinking about a passage I had just read in a book by the Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton about the power of the Holy Spirit: “I think that many Christians live Spirit-deficient lives,” he writes, “a bit like someone who is sleep-deprived, nutrient-deprived, or oxygen-deprived. Many Christians haven’t been taught about the Spirit, nor encouraged to seek the Spirit’s work in their lives. As a result, our spiritual lives are a bit anemic as we try living the Christian life by our own power and wisdom.” I know what it’s like to try and live the Christian life by my own power and wisdom. It’s exhausting.

At the end of our meeting the Presiding Bishop told us that he wanted to spend the rest of his tenure helping Episcopalians experience the love of God, and to deepen our commitment to follow Jesus in the ways of love. We said that we wanted to help. The circle soon grew wider to include many gifted teachers and writers in the Episcopal Church. From this rich collaboration was born The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Focus life. At the Episcopal Church’s General Convention last summer, the Presiding Bishop asked every Episcopalian to adopt the Way of Love as our personal rule of life.

There’s nothing radically new about the Way of Love. It’s a gentle reframing of ancient spiritual practices that have formed the church from its earliest days and point us back to the promises made at our baptism. They are practices that help us remember that the church is not a building, but is a gathering of people who experience God through the spiritual presence and teachings of Jesus and have chosen to follow him in his ways of love for the world. You each received a small card with the practices described inside. They are to turn, to learn, and to pray; to worship; to bless and to go, and finally to rest.

The Way of Love is the presiding bishop’s invitation to us to invest in our spiritual growth and ensure that all we do as the Episcopal Church is rooted in a love relationship with Jesus. Our diocese was the first in the country to offer liturgical resources to explore the Way of Love as part of  Sunday worship which nearly thirty congregations in the diocese have offered or are offering now.

Wouldn’t be amazing if we all focused on core spiritual practices, not just once, but on a regular basis, as part of what it means for us to be church? There are many to do this: you might read in small groups Bishop Curry’s latest book, The Power of Love, this Lent or at another time, copies of which we have on sale at the Way of Love table. You might host a Way of Love retreat, as St. John’s, Lafayette Square and St. Albans Parish are doing this Lent. You could ask members of your church to give their testimonies on how one of the spiritual practices informs their life, as Church of the Good Shepherd, Silver Spring is doing now. The possibilities are many, and there is a large and growing body of spiritual resources that we will continue to curate on the diocesan website.

This time next year, our Chief Evangelism Officer will be our preacher at Convention, and he will lead a diocesan revival the night before. I’m confident that the event will be compelling enough for us to invite our friends. But surely we also want to invite those same friends to visit our joyful, healthy, compelling faith communities. Practicing the Way of Love together is but one way we can work to tend to the spiritual soil of our lives and our congregations. Then when others ask us what it means to be an Episcopalian Christian, we can not only point to the Presiding Bishop, but describe how we, as communities and individual disciples, are walking in Jesus’ way of love.  

There are other ways we can to tend to our soil. One of the reasons I wanted you to hear Nancy Beach is because the kind of relationship health and alignment among congregational leaders that she describes is foundational for everything we do. To the degree that congregational leadership is healthy, ministries can thrive, even in the most adverse circumstances. Conversely, to the degree that our leadership is languishing or conflicted and relationships are strained, ministries are diminished, no matter how hard we work at them. We all have room for growth and improvement here--none of us, I daresay scored a “ten” in every area of congregational health. These are important conversations to have, honestly and courageously. And we, your diocesan staff, are here to help.

What other ways can we tend to our soil? I learned long ago as a parish priest that spiritually healthy and well-resourced congregations are more joyful and fun to be a part of than conflicted, struggling, or under-resourced congregations. We’ve spent considerable time and energy in the last few years addressing the resourcing of congregations, and that soil-tending work will continue. It is the driving impetus behind all our collaborative endeavors, the establishment of the diaconate, congregational growth grants, internship placements for new priests, the financial resources committee, and the investment in diocesan staff who can be of concrete assistance during times of leadership transition, the cultivation of new ministry opportunities, and congregational care.

From the beginning of my episcopate, my primary vocation has been to strengthen the spiritual vitality and structural capacity of our congregations. I’ve dedicated my life to this work because, like you, I love the Episcopal Church and I don’t believe that institutional decline, or even maintenance, is God’s preferred future for us when we have so much to offer. The Episcopal Church is a spiritual treasure on the spectrum of Christianity, a sacramental and generous way of living the Gospel of Jesus that is of priceless value.

There are amazing expressions of hope and vitality throughout the diocese, for which I give thanks to God, and there are places where we are, in one way or another, are a bit stuck, and sometimes overwhelmed by the challenges we face, not to mention the challenges in our communities and the nation as a whole.

All these things were on my mind when, not long after that gathering with the Presiding Bishop, this wonderful diocese granted me a three-month sabbatical. During that time I studied non-Episcopal churches throughout the geographic boundaries of our diocese, churches that are thriving within the actual soil that we share with them. I introduced myself to their leaders, studied their offerings, learned all that I could about the way their ministry is structured. In every church, I was met with warmth, respect, and an eagerness to share.

I could speak at length about what I learned and how much we have to learn from our siblings in Christ from other traditions. But my learnings, important as they are, were not the most important fruit of my time apart. That fruit was more personal.

Jesus wanted to have some conversations with me about our relationship. You would recognize from Scripture some of the questions I heard him ask--questions I have circled around all my life: “Do you love me?” “Who do you say that I am?” “What do you want me to do for you?”

In long stretches of silence, Jesus and I looked back together on the seven years I had served thus far as your bishop, which was an exercise in both humility and gratitude--humility for my mistakes and all that I am still learning, and gratitude for the privilege of this work and for you. “Did I still feel called to this work?” I’m not sure who asked the question first, Jesus, or me, or my sweet, long-suffering husband Paul. But it was an easy question to answer.  Yes, without hesitation. Because I love Jesus. I love the Episcopal Church. I love serving as your bishop, and I love you.

Then Jesus and I looked toward the future. “What kind of bishop do you need me to be?” I asked him. “What kind of bishop does the Diocese of Washington need now?” I had a strong sense that the diocese needed a different kind of leadership in the next seven years, but could I be that leader? How did I need to change and grow?  

“You’re trying to do this too much from your own strength and power,” Jesus told me. No surprise there; it is, to quote St. Paul, “the sin that lives within me.”  “Abide in me,” Jesus said, “and ask our people for help.”

What came to me was not that I needed to make a change in direction or initiative, but rather that Jesus was inviting me to rededicate my life to him and to the spiritual practices that keep me close to him. And that I needed your help in clarifying our vision and priorities for the next season of ministry together.

Thus when I returned from sabbatical, I asked diocesan leaders to help establish a process of taking stock of where we are now--our strengths and challenges, where we see fruitfulness in our ministries and where we struggle--and then together commit to a mutually-discerned vision of God’s preferred future for our diocese. I am persuaded that this work is best accomplished taking into account the distinctive contexts of each geographic region and constituency, building upon the work we have begun, so that we can establish particular priorities and goals for each and direct resources and energies accordingly.

This is the work of strategic planning, which In some ways is an organizational expression of a rule of life, a way to focus our energies and practices toward greater health and vitality. Several of our strongest congregations engage in this work regularly; some of you are in a season of planning now. Our schools do this work as a matter of course. Washington National Cathedral has just completed the discernment phase of its strategic plan, and is now setting up structures for implementation.

Now, I first heard Tony Morgan utter the phrase “holy interruption” at a leadership conference in 2017. He stood on a stage in front of nearly 2000 people, and on a whiteboard drew a simple bell curve.  

“I am the founding director of an organization that helps churches get unstuck,” he said. “We’ve worked with hundreds of churches of all sizes, denominations, and in varying settings. What we’ve learned is that all churches experience a similar life cycle.” He proceeded to describe the phases of that cycle: Launch/Momentum, Growth/Strategic, Growth/Sustained, Health/Maintenance, Preservation/Life Support.

As Tony described what churches experience and how they function in each  stage of the life cycle, I recognized our congregations in both their opportunities and their struggles. I was intrigued by the specific, practical suggestions Tony offered to support congregations in stages of momentum and health and to move out of stuckness and decline. There is always hope for transformation and new life, no matter where a church is in the life cycle, but to move from maintenance and preservation to momentum growth and sustained health requires more than hope, more than trying harder at the things that are no longer bearing fruit.

I invited Tony to address our clergy conference last spring, and many responded positively to his ideas and shared them with their vestries. Several asked if we might bring Tony back and organize learning cohorts. Based on that response, we decided to invite Tony to speak at the pre-convention event last night--all of this in hopes that you might find hope and inspiration and concrete suggestions for moving toward or sustaining momentum and health.

As we began in earnest looking for professional guidance to help us in the work of strategic planning, the Unstuck Group submitted a proposal, which was the one we accepted. I was drawn to them because of the reality-based practical nature of their approach. Working with them will give every congregation that chooses to engage an opportunity for self-assessment and collaborative learning.

Wouldn’t it be amazing for us to be able to say in three to five years, “Here are the fruits of tending to our soil, fruits of spiritual growth, more vibrant congregations, and deeper engagement in our communities, in faithfulness to Jesus and his mission of love?

My friends in Christ, I invite every congregation represented here to participate in this season of collective discernment and strategic planning. I ask for your help, excited by the possibilities of what could be true for us in the years ahead. I also want to be the kind of bishop who is held accountable by God and by you to the mission, vision, and collective priorities that we discern together.

Among the first steps: all congregational leaders--clergy, wardens, and vestries--will soon receive an invitation to take an online assessment to determine, in broad strokes, where your congregations fall on the life cycle. You’ll also be given free access to an online course sponsored by the Unstuck Group, to learn more about their process and specific suggestions for each stage of the life cycle. For those who’d like to make a deeper commitment to your own work as a congregation, there is the option of a year-long strategic process for you, and the opportunity to form learning cohorts with other congregational leaders.

We’re in the process now of establishing leadership teams in each region of the diocese. In the next two months, each team will determine the best way to engage the regional congregations and convene a discovery session. It’s an opportunity for congregational leaders to pray together, share their experiences, and listen for God’s call.  

When the discovery sessions are completed sometime in late spring, one or two leaders from each region will join diocesan staff for a 2-day retreat, to pray and reflect on all that we’ve learned in the discovery process. That group will begin the process of articulating the core mission for congregations in the Diocese of Washington, a collective vision of God’s preferred future for us, and identify specific goals for the next three to five years. We’ll then go back to each of the regions for your feedback and  refine goals for each of the regions. God willing, we will complete this phase by the fall of 2019 and begin structuring and equipping ourselves for the work of implementation.

The success of our efforts depends on the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and on our collective willingness to engage. “We will walk into the Kingdom of God together,” in the words of Daniel Berrigan, “Or we won’t walk in at all.”

Friends, it is not our responsibility to sow the seeds of new life. That is God’s work. But we are responsible for the quality of our soil.

Every Sunday as I make my visitations to the congregations of our diocese, I ask God, first, to allow me to see every person as God sees them, so that I might lift up and encourage all whom I meet. Then I ask for a glimpse of God’s preferred future in that place. Invariably, what I see, and hear, in the beautiful diversity of our people, is joy. I see our leaders free to invest themselves in ministry, with buildings and structures well-suited and resourced in service to that ministry. I hear people speak confidently of their journeys of faith and relationship with God in Jesus. I always see children, and elders and all ages in between, and obvious signs of an outward focus of active service, community engagement, and the necessary work of justice.

There is already, in every place, the fruits of  good soil, cultivated over the generations, and in every place, there is the need to further tend to our soil. The same is true for every one of us: we each have parts of ourselves that are like the good soil in Jesus’ parable and other parts in need of tending. The same is true for our diocese as a whole.  

May God guide and sustain us all in this season of taking stock of our soil--individually, in our congregations, and as diocese--and working together to tend to that soil. In this next season of ministry, I pledge to God and to you my whole-hearted effort to be among you as a co-gardner in the cultivation of good soil.

Let’s not do this work from our own strength and power, but by relying on Jesus, He is the source of our strength. He is the strength of our life. He is the good news we have to share. And his promise to us is this: If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit and all will know that you are my disciples.

He also commanded us: Love one another, as I have loved you.   

The world will know we are Christians as we follow Jesus in the Way of Love.

Convirtiéndose en buena tierra: Discurso de la Convención Diocesana 2019

January 26, 2019

"¡Escuchen!" Dijo Jesús. Un sembrador salió a sembrar. Y al sembrar, una parte de la semilla cayó en el camino, y llegaron las aves y se la comieron. Otra parte cayó entre las piedras, donde no había mucha tierra; esa semilla brotó pronto, porque la tierra no era muy honda; pero el sol, al salir, la quemó, y como no tenía raíz, se secó. Otra parte de la semilla cayó entre espinos, y los espinos crecieron y la ahogaron, de modo que la semilla no dio grano. Pero otra parte cayó en buena tierra, y creció, dando una buena cosecha; algunas espigas dieron treinta granos por semilla, otras sesenta granos, y otras cien. Y añadió Jesús: Los que tienen oídos, oigan.

Marcos 4:1-9

Les hablo hoy sobre el trabajo de convertirse en buena tierra.

En diciembre de 2017, el Obispo Primado Michael Curry invitó a un pequeño grupo de líderes para ayudarle a pensar sobre un tema en su mente. Esto fue seis meses antes de que su sermón en la Boda Real lo convirtiera en el episcopal más famoso del planeta. Pero su sermón no fue noticia para nosotros. El Obispo Curry ha inspirado a la Iglesia Episcopal con su predicación durante años. Desde su elección como obispo primado en 2015, ha sido un avivamiento de un solo hombre, ha viajado por todo el país y el mundo, llamándonos a todos los miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal que renueven nuestro compromiso con Jesús y su evangelio de amor.

El Obispo Primado se describe a sí mismo como nuestro Director General de Evangelismo. Habla de seguir a Jesús con pasión y alegría. A eso es a lo que está respondiendo el mundo: su alegría al seguir a Jesús, incluso cuando se compromete de manera inquebrantable con los temas más desafiantes y controversiales de nuestro tiempo. No tiene miedo de hablar sobre la raza, sobre la prevención de la violencia con armas de fuego, sobre el escándalo de separar a los niños de sus padres en la frontera, pero lo hace, en el contexto de su compromiso de seguir a Jesús en el camino del amor. "La iglesia es un movimiento", él lo dice cualquier oportunidad que tenga, instándolos a pensar de nosotros mismos como la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús. Cada vez que él dice esto, todos nos animamos.

Pero la razón por la que quiso reunirse en diciembre de 2017 fue que se dio cuenta de que la Iglesia Episcopal estaba, en muchos sentidos, estancada, y que su sola predicación no nos dejaría atascados. Nuestra Iglesia necesitaba un reavivamiento de la fe incrustado en nuestras vidas personales, en nuestras estructuras para el ministerio de la iglesia, y un compromiso hacia el amor enfocado hacia afuera, como Jesús ama a nuestros vecinos, extranjeros y nuestros enemigos.

Así que el Obispo Primado quería hablar de estrategia de evangelismo. Durante dos días, una docena de nosotros oramos y nos preguntamos cómo ser fieles a Jesús y su movimiento. ¿Qué más podría hacer el Obispo Primado? ¿Qué podríamos hacer, no solo para asegurar la supervivencia de nuestras iglesias, sino también para asegurarnos de que nosotros, como pueblo, podamos sentirnos más felices, cariñosos y convincentes en nuestro testimonio como seguidores de Jesús?

Parte del problema, nos dijimos a nosotros mismos, tal vez te has dicho esto, es que los Episcopales, en general, no nos gusta hablar de nuestra fe. En general, no invitamos a nuestros amigos a la iglesia con frecuencia. Y aunque a cada congregación Episcopal le gusta considerarse afectuosa y acogedora, los datos sugieren lo contrario. Reconocimos que, como denominación, podemos ser bastante inflexibles cuando se trata de nuestras preferencias en la iglesia. Nuestras preferencias pueden estar bien, pero comenzar con ellas no puede ser un enfoque fructuoso para el evangelismo. Una y otra vez hemos hablado sobre lo que podríamos hacer mejor, cómo podríamos esforzarnos más.

Finalmente, alguien le preguntó al Obispo Primado cuál era su mayor preocupación. Se quedó callado por un momento. "Mientras viajo por la iglesia", dijo, "me preocupa que la mayoría de nuestra gente no sepa por sí misma el amor incondicional de Dios. Me preocupa que la razón por la que vacilan en hablar de Jesús es porque realmente no lo conocen. Sé que debemos aprender a ser más acogedores, a defender la justicia y a hacer todo tipo de cosas ", dijo,"pero me pregunto si nuestra gente podría usar un poco más a Jesús."

Él no recibió ningún argumento de nosotros. No había una persona alrededor de esa mesa que no necesitará un poco más de Jesús, incluyéndome a mí. Me encontré pensando en un pasaje que acababa de leer en un libro del pastor Metodista Adam Hamilton sobre el poder del Espíritu Santo: "Creo que muchos cristianos viven vidas deficientes en el Espíritu", escribe, un poco como alguien que está privados del sueño, privados de nutrientes o privados de oxígeno. A muchos cristianos no se les ha enseñado sobre el Espíritu, ni se les ha alentado a buscar la obra del Espíritu en sus vidas. Como resultado, nuestras vidas espirituales son un poco anémicas al tratar de vivir la vida cristiana por nuestro propio poder y sabiduría. Sé lo que es tratar de vivir la vida cristiana con mi propio poder y sabiduría. Puede ser agotador.

Al final de nuestra reunión, el Obispo Primado nos dijo que quería pasar el resto de su mandato ayudando a los Episcopales a experimentar el amor de Dios, y profundizar nuestro compromiso de seguir a Jesús en los caminos del amor. Dijimos que queríamos ayudar. El círculo pronto se hizo más amplio para incluir a muchos maestros y escritores talentosos en la Iglesia Episcopal. De esta rica colaboración nació El Camino del Amor: Prácticas para una vida centrada en Jesús. (DIAPOSITIVA) En la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal el verano pasado, el Obispo Primado le pidió a cada Episcopal que adoptará el Camino del Amor como nuestra regla personal de vida.

No hay nada radicalmente nuevo en el Camino del Amor. Es un replanteamiento suave de las antiguas prácticas espirituales que han formado a la iglesia desde sus primeros días y nos remite a las promesas hechas en nuestro bautismo. Son prácticas que nos ayudan a recordar que la iglesia no es un edificio, sino que es una reunión de personas que experimentan a Dios a través de la presencia espiritual y las enseñanzas de Jesús y han elegido seguirlo en sus formas de amor por el mundo. Cada uno recibió una pequeña tarjeta con las prácticas descritas en el interior. Deben virar, aprender y orar; adorar; bendecir y emprender, y finalmente reposar.

El Camino del Amor es la invitación que nos hace el obispo primado para invertir en nuestro crecimiento espiritual y asegurarnos de que todo lo que hacemos como Iglesia Episcopal está arraigado en una relación de amor con Jesús. Nuestra diócesis fue la primera en el país en ofrecer recursos litúrgicos para explorar el Camino del Amor como parte de la adoración del domingo, que cuenta con casi treinta congregaciones en la diócesis que han ofrecido o están ofreciendo ahora.

¿No sería asombroso si todos nos enfocáramos en las prácticas espirituales básicas, creciendo en nuestra relación con Jesús y en el amor por los demás, de manera regular, como parte de lo que significa ser una iglesia? Hay muchos para hacer esto: pueden leer en pequeños grupos el último libro de Obispo Curry, The Power of Love (El Poder del Amor), esta Cuaresma o en otro momento, copias del cual tenemos a la venta en la mesa de El Camino del Amor. La parroquia de San Albano está organizando un retiro de un día, Viviendo el Camino del Amor el 16 de marzo, y otros son bienvenidos. Iglesia del Buen Pastor, Silver Spring ha pedido a siete miembros que reflexionen en profundidad sobre una de las siete prácticas. Las posibilidades son muchas, y hay un gran y creciente grupo de recursos espirituales que continuaremos seleccionando en el sitio web diocesano.

Ha este tiempo el próximo año que viene, nuestro Director General de Evangelismo será nuestro predicador en la Convención, y él liderará un avivamiento diocesano la noche anterior. Estoy segura de que el evento será lo suficientemente convincente como para que invitemos a nuestros amigos. Pero seguramente también queremos invitar a esos mismos amigos a visitar nuestras comunidades alegres, saludables y convincentes de fe. Practicar el Camino del Amor juntos es solo una manera en que podemos trabajar para cuidar la tierra espiritual de nuestras vidas y nuestras congregaciones. Luego, cuando otros nos pregunten qué significa ser un Cristiano Episcopal, no sólo podemos señalar al Obispo Primado, sino que también describimos cómo nosotros, como comunidades y discípulos individuales, estamos caminando en el camino del amor de Jesús.

Hay otras formas en que podemos cuidar nuestra tierra. Una de las razones por las que quería que escucharan a Nancy Beach es porque el tipo de relación de salud y alineación entre los líderes de la congregación que ella describe es fundamental para todo lo que hacemos. En la medida en que el liderazgo congregacional sea saludable, los ministerios pueden prosperar, incluso en las circunstancias más adversas. A la inversa, en la medida en que nuestro liderazgo esté languideciendo o en conflicto y nuestras relaciones estén tensas, los ministerios disminuyen, sin importar cuánto trabajamos en ellos. Todos tenemos espacio aquí para el crecimiento y mejoramiento; ninguno de nosotros, me atrevería a decir un "diez" en todas las áreas de la salud congregacional. Estas son conversaciones importantes para tener, honestamente y con coraje. Y nosotros, su personal diocesano, estamos aquí para ayudarlos.

¿De qué otras maneras podemos cuidar a nuestra tierra? Aprendí hace mucho tiempo como sacerdote de una parroquia que las congregaciones espiritualmente sanas y con muchos recursos son más felices y divertidas de ser parte de las congregaciones en conflicto, con dificultades o con pocos recursos. Hemos gastado mucha energía en los últimos trabajos dirigidos a los recursos de las congregaciones, y ese trabajo de mantenimiento de la tierra continuará. Es el ímpetu impulso de todos nuestros esfuerzos de colaboración, el establecimiento del diaconado, las becas de crecimiento congregacional, la colocación de pasantías para nuevos sacerdotes, el comité de recursos financieros y la inversión en personal diocesano que puede ser de ayuda concreta en tiempos de transición de liderazgo, el cultivo de nuevas oportunidades de ministerio, y el cuidado congregacional.

Desde el comienzo de mi episcopado, mi vocación principal ha sido fortalecer la vitalidad espiritual y la capacidad estructural de nuestras congregaciones. He dedicado mi vida a este trabajo porque, como usted, amo a la Iglesia Episcopal y no creo que el declive institucional, o incluso el mantenimiento, sea el futuro preferido de Dios cuando tenemos mucho que ofrecer. La Iglesia Episcopal es un tesoro espiritual en el espectro del cristianismo, una forma sacramental y generosa de vivir el Evangelio de Jesús que tiene un valor inestimable.

Hay expresiones asombrosas de esperanza y vitalidad en toda la diócesis, por las cuales le doy gracias a Dios, y hay lugares en los que estamos, de una manera u otra, estamos un poco estancados y, a veces, agobiados por los desafíos que enfrentamos, sin mencionar los desafíos en nuestras comunidades y en la nación en general.

Todas estas cosas estaban en mi mente cuando, poco después de la reunión con el Obispo Primado, esta maravillosa diócesis me concedió un sabático de tres meses. Durante ese tiempo, estudié iglesias no Episcopales a lo largo de los límites geográficos de nuestra diócesis, iglesias que están prosperando dentro de la tierra real que compartimos con ellas. Me presenté a sus líderes, estudié sus ofrendas, aprendí todo lo que pude sobre la forma en que están estructurado su ministerio. En cada iglesia, me recibieron con calidez, respeto y ganas de compartir.

Podría hablar extensamente sobre lo que aprendí y cuánto tenemos que aprender de nuestros hermanos en Cristo de otras tradiciones. Pero mis aprendizajes, por importantes que sean, no fueron el fruto más importante de mi tiempo aparte. Esa fruta era más personal.

Jesús quería tener algunas conversaciones conmigo sobre nuestra relación. Reconocerían de las Escrituras algunas de las preguntas que le oí preguntar: preguntas que he circulado en torno a mi vida: "¿Me amas?" "¿Quién dices que soy?" "¿Qué quieres que haga para ti?"

En largos períodos de silencio, Jesús e yo miramos hacia atrás juntos durante los siete años que he servido hasta ahora como su obispa, que fue un ejercicio de humildad y gratitud, humildad por mis errores y todo lo que todavía estoy aprendiendo, y gratitud por el privilegio de este trabajo y por ustedes. "¿Todavía me sentí llamada a este trabajo?" No estoy segura de quién hizo la pregunta primero, Jesús o yo, o mi dulce y sufrido esposo Paul. Pero fue una pregunta fácil de responder. Sí, sin dudarlo. Porque amo a Jesús. Me encanta la Iglesia Episcopal. Me encanta servir como su obispa, y los amo.

Entonces Jesús e yo miramos hacia el futuro. "¿Qué clase de obispa necesitas que sea?" Le pregunté. “¿Qué tipo de obispa necesita la Diócesis de Washington ahora?” Tenía la firme sensación de que la diócesis necesitaba un tipo diferente de liderazgo en los próximos siete años, pero ¿podría ser ese líder? ¿Cómo necesito cambiar y crecer?

"Estás tratando de hacer esto demasiado con tu propia fuerza y ​​poder," me dijo Jesús. No hay sorpresa allí; es, para citar a San Pablo, "el pecado que vive dentro de mí." "Permanece en mí," dijo Jesús, "y pide ayuda a nuestra gente."

Lo que se me ocurrió no era que necesitaba hacer un cambio en la dirección o la iniciativa, sino que necesitaba volver a dedicarme a Jesús y las prácticas espirituales que me mantienen cerca de él. Y que necesitaba su ayuda para aclarar nuestra visión y prioridades para la próxima temporada de ministerio juntos. Así, cuando regresé de mi sabático, pedí a los líderes diocesanos que establecieran un proceso para evaluar dónde estamos ahora, nuestras fortalezas y desafíos, dónde vemos la fructificación en nuestros ministerios y donde luchamos, y luego juntos nos comprometemos a un acuerdo mutuo, una visión discernida del futuro preferido de Dios para nuestra diócesis. Estoy convencida de que este trabajo se realiza mejor teniendo en cuenta los contextos distintivos de cada región geográfica y circunscripción, construyendo sobre el trabajo que hemos comenzado, para que podamos establecer prioridades y metas particulares para cada uno y dirigir los recursos y las energías en consecuencia.

Este es el trabajo de la planificación estratégica, que de alguna manera es una expresión organizativa de una regla de vida, una forma de enfocar nuestras energías y prácticas hacia una mayor salud y vitalidad. Varias de nuestras congregaciones más fuertes se involucran en este trabajo regularmente; algunos de ustedes están en una temporada de planificación ahora. Nuestras escuelas hacen este trabajo como una cuestión de curso. La Catedral Nacional de Washington acaba de completar la fase de discernimiento de su plan estratégico y ahora está estableciendo estructuras para su implementación.

Ahora, por primera vez, escuché a Tony Morgan pronunciar la frase "santa interrupción" en una conferencia de líderes en 2017. Se paró en un escenario frente a casi 2000 personas y en una pizarra dibujó una curva de campana simple.

"Soy el director fundador de una organización que ayuda a las iglesias a despegarse," dijo. "Hemos trabajado con cientos de iglesias de todos los tamaños, denominaciones y en diferentes entornos. Lo que hemos aprendido es que todas las iglesias experimentan un ciclo de vida similar, y él procedió a describir las fases de ese ciclo: Lanzamiento / Crecimiento momentáneo / Crecimiento estratégico / Salud sostenida / Mantenimiento / Preservación / Soporte vital.
Cuando Tony describió la experiencia de las iglesias y cómo funcionan en cada etapa del ciclo de vida, reconocí a nuestras congregaciones tanto en sus oportunidades como en sus luchas. Me intrigaron las sugerencias prácticas y específicas que Tony ofreció para apoyar a las congregaciones en etapas de impulso y salud y para salir del estancamiento y el declive. Siempre hay esperanza de transformación y vida nueva, sin importar dónde se encuentre una iglesia en el ciclo de vida. pero pasar del mantenimiento y la preservación al crecimiento del impulso y la salud sostenida requiere más que esperanza, más que esforzarse más en las cosas que ya no están dando frutos.

Invité a Tony a hablar en nuestra conferencia del clero en la primavera pasada, y muchos respondieron positivamente a sus ideas y las compartieron con sus miembros. Varios preguntaron si podríamos traer de vuelta a Tony y organizar grupos de aprendizaje. Basándonos en esa respuesta, decidimos invitar a Tony a hablar en el evento previo a la convención de la noche anterior: todo esto con la esperanza de que pueda encontrar esperanza e inspiración y sugerencias concretas para avanzar o mantener el impulso y la salud.

Cuando comenzamos a buscar orientación profesional para ayudarnos en el trabajo de planificación estratégica, el Grupo Unstuck presentó una propuesta que fue la que aceptamos. Me atrajeron a ellos debido a la naturaleza práctica basada en la realidad de su enfoque. Trabajar con ellos le dará a cada congregación que elija participar una oportunidad de autoevaluación y aprendizaje colaborativo.

¿No sería increíble para nosotros poder decir en tres o cinco años, “Aquí están los frutos de cuidar nuestra tierra, los frutos del crecimiento espiritual, las congregaciones más vibrantes y un compromiso más profundo en nuestras comunidades, en fidelidad a Jesús y su misión de amor?

Amigos míos en Cristo, invitó a todas las congregaciones representadas aquí a participar en esta temporada de discernimiento colectivo y planificación estratégica. Solicito su ayuda, emocionada por las posibilidades de lo que podría ser cierto para nosotros en los próximos años. También quiero ser la clase de obispa que es responsable por Dios y por ustedes antes la misión, la visión y las prioridades colectivas que discernimos juntos.

Entre los primeros pasos: todos los líderes de la congregación: el clero, los guardianes y los miembros de la junta parroquial pronto recibirán una invitación para realizar una evaluación en línea para determinar, a grandes rasgos, dónde se encuentran sus congregaciones en el ciclo de la vida. También se le dará acceso gratuito a un curso en línea patrocinado por el Grupo Unstuck, para obtener más información sobre su proceso y sugerencias específicas para cada etapa del ciclo de vida. Para aquellos que deseen comprometerse más profundamente con su propio trabajo como congregación, existe la opción de un proceso estratégico de un año para usted y la oportunidad de formar cohortes de aprendizaje con otros líderes congregacionales.

Estamos en el proceso de establecer equipos de liderazgo en cada región de la diócesis. En los próximos dos meses, cada equipo determinará la mejor manera de involucrar a las congregaciones regionales y convocar una sesión de descubrimiento. Es una oportunidad para que los líderes de la congregación oren juntos, compartan sus experiencias y escuchen el llamado de Dios.

Cuando las sesiones de descubrimiento se completen en algún momento a fines de la primavera, uno o dos líderes de cada región se unirán al personal diocesano para un retiro de 2 días, para orar y reflexionar sobre todo lo que hemos aprendido en el proceso de descubrimiento. Ese grupo comenzará el proceso de articular la misión principal de las congregaciones en la Diócesis de Washington, una visión colectiva del futuro preferido de Dios para nosotros, e identificará objetivos específicos para los próximos tres a cinco años. Luego volveremos a cada una de las regiones para sus comentarios y refinaremos los objetivos para cada una de las regiones. Si Dios quiere, completaremos esta fase para el otoño de 2019 y comenzaremos a estructurarnos y equiparnos para el trabajo de implementación. El éxito de nuestros esfuerzos depende de la gracia de Dios y de la guía del Espíritu Santo, y de nuestra voluntad colectiva de participar. "Caminaremos juntos hacia el Reino de Dios", en palabras de Daniel Barigan, "O no entraremos en absoluto."

Todos los domingos, mientras hago mis visitas a las congregaciones de nuestra diócesis, le pido a Dios que me permita ver a cada persona como Dios las ve, para que pueda animar y alentar a todos los que conozco. Pido que Dios me dé un vistazo del futuro preferido de Dios en ese lugar. Invariablemente, lo que veo y escucho en la hermosa diversidad de nuestra gente es la alegría. Veo a nuestros líderes libres de invertir en el ministerio, con edificios y estructuras con los recursos adecuados para servir a ese ministerio. Escucho a las personas hablar con confianza de sus viajes de fe y relación con Dios en Jesús. Siempre veo a niños, ancianos y todas las edades intermedias, y signos evidentes de un enfoque externo, servicio activo, compromiso y el trabajo necesario de la justicia.

Ya hay, en cada lugar, los frutos de una buena tierra, cultivados durante generaciones, y en cada lugar, existe la necesidad de seguir atendiendo nuestro tierra. Lo mismo es cierto para cada uno de nosotros: cada uno de nosotros tenemos partes de nosotros mismos que son como la buena tierra en la parábola de Jesús y otras partes que necesitan ser atendidas. Lo mismo es cierto para nuestra diócesis en su conjunto.

Que Dios nos guíe y nos sostenga a todos en esta temporada de hacer un balance de nuestra tierra--individualmente, en nuestras congregaciones y como diócesis--y trabajando juntos para cuidar esa tierra, le prometo a Dios y a ustedes todo mi esfuerzo para estar entre ustedes como co-jardinera en el cultivo de una buena tierra, no hagamos este trabajo con nuestra propia fuerza y ​​poder, sino confiando en Jesús, que nos promete a todos que es esto: si permanecen en mí, y yo en ustedes, darán mucho fruto y todos sabrán que son mis discípulos. Ámense los unos a los otros como yo los he amado. El mundo sabrá que somos cristianos por nuestro amor.

Holy Interruption: Diocesan Convention 2019

January 24, 2019

‘Some seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ And Jesus said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Mark 4:4-9

As Diocesan Convention approaches, I am grateful to God for all who will gather at Washington National Cathedral this weekend. Over 200 people have signed up for the pre-convention on Friday evening. Tony Morgan, author of The Unstuck Church, will speak on the life cycle of congregations and offer specific strategies to promote and sustain spiritual health and to address the ways all congregations can get stuck in habits that lead to decline.

For those unable to attend, Tony’s presentation and the question/answer session that follows will be livestreamed and available for later viewing on the diocesan website. (Check the Convention web page closer to the event for the link.)

On Saturday morning, we convene for Convention, the annual legislative gathering of diocesan lay and clergy leaders. Again, the Convention will be livestreamed for those wanting to participate from home, and we will post both the sermon from our Convention preacher, Ms. Nancy Beach, and my address on the diocesan website. (Check the Convention web page on Saturday morning for the livestream link and later in the day for the other materials.)

Much of my address will focus on the upcoming diocesan-wide strategic planning process that will officially begin in mid-February. More on that process in the coming weeks, but for now, please know we are in the process of establishing leadership teams for each of the eight diocesan regions, and I invite you to email me if you’re interested in exploring that possibility.

Each congregation will have the opportunity to engage in a process of self-assessment and online learning, guided by our consultants from the Unstuck Group. We’ll also engage in regionally-focused discovery sessions this spring, to invite your input and to create a space for congregational leaders to gather in prayer and guided conversation focused on congregational strengths, challenges, and future possibilities.  

At Convention we will offer thanks for several diocesan leaders who are completing terms of faithful service: Mr. Paul Barkett is stepping down as diocesan treasurer; Mr. Jim Jones as chair of the diocesan finance committee, and Ms. Mary Kostel, as diocesan chancellor.

We will also pause to celebrate and give thanks to God for Paul Cooney’s 17-year ministry as Canon to the Ordinary. Words cannot sufficiently express our gratitude for Paul and our prayers for the life adventures that await him. I invite every congregation to remember Paul and Linda Cooney in your prayers this Sunday. What a faithful disciple, servant leader, and good friend Paul has been in the Diocese of Washington!

Canon Paul E. Cooney

To Preserve in Hope: In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 20, 2019

“Here comes the dreamer. Come now, let us kill him . . . and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”  
Genesis 37:17b-20

The idea of establishing a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. surfaced shortly after his assassination in 1968, but as you know, it was resisted mightily for years. The first time time it came up for a floor vote in House of Representatives was a decade later, and it failed, the main arguments against it being the expense of giving federal workers a day off, and that to honor King would go against long-standing tradition only to honor with a holiday those who had served in public office. Behind those sanitized reasons was an ugly smear campaign, spearheaded by Senator Jesse Helms, among others, branding King as a communist conspirator and unworthy for public recognition. Efforts then turned toward galvanizing the general public. In 1981, six million signatures were collected for a petition to pass the law, the largest petition in favor of an issue in US history. President Reagan initially opposed the holiday and only signed the law into legislation in 1983 when it passed in Congress with veto proof majorities.

I was living in Arizona in early 1980s, a state whose elected leadership, including the governor, vowed to fight to the end any official celebration of King’s life and legacy. I was stunned by the vitriol and ferocity of resistance. But I confess, at age 23, I didn’t know very much about the Civil Rights struggles that dominated the years of my childhood and about which I learned nothing at all until I was in college. Nor did I have a sufficient framework to understand the continued racial tensions and disparities of our society. In Arizona, nearly all of that tension and all the disparities were between the dominant Anglo and Native American and Hispanic populations of that land.

I eventually returned to the East Coast where I was raised to attend seminary and subsequently ordained. It was then that I made an intentional commitment to spend the month of January leading up to this weekend reading King’s writings and the historical context that led up to and followed the Civil Rights era that defined his life and ministry. As a parish priest, I began the practice each Martin Luther King weekend of reading   excerpts from his writings or other works that shed light on his spiritual stature and transformational leadership.

My book this year was a memoir, written by the southern historian Timothy Tyson, entitled Blood Done Sign My Name, which tells the story of the killing of Henry Marrow, a black man, by a three white men in Oxford, North Carolina in the spring of 1970. The three men felt justified in murdering Marrow outside the town’s general store because he had allegedly “said something” to a white woman behind the counter. Marrow was beaten and killed in broad daylight as he lay on his back, begging for his life.

Tyson was ten years old at the time, the son of a white minister in Oxford, and through a child’s eyes he watched as his town erupted in violence, laying bare generations of racial tension that, frankly, shocked the white population. “We’ve always had good relations here,” they would say to anyone who would listen, having successfully suppressed from public record and collective white memory the worst incidents of their racist past, successfully cloaked with the veneer of white paternalism. But the generation of African American men who fought in Vietnam would have none of it. King wasn’t their hero, either. Non-violence resistance meant nothing to them.

Years later when, as a historian, Tyson reflected on what happened in his hometown, he wrote this:

So while this is the story of a small boy in a small town one hot Southern summer, it is also the story of a nation torn apart by racial, political, social, and cultural clashes so deep that they echo in our lives to this day. The cheerful and cherished lies we tell ourselves about those years—that the black freedom movement was largely a nonviolent call on America’s conscience, which America answered, to cite the most glaring fiction—do little to repair the breach. There are many things we never learned about the civil rights struggle, and many other things we have tried hard to forget. The United States could find work for a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission like the one that has tried to mend the scars of apartheid in South Africa; any psychiatrist can tell you that genuine healing requires a candid confrontation with our past. In any case, if there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth. The truth will set us free, so the Bible says, and my own experience bears witness. . . My search for the meaning of the troubles in Oxford launched me toward a life of learning, across lines of color and caste, out of my little boy’s vision of my family’s well-lighted place in the world and into the shadows where histories and memories and hopes abide.

In the last few years, it seems part of our nation, with great reluctance and resistance, is slowly coming to grips with the racial violence that historically follows any significant change that threatens white supremacy.

After the Civil War and the official abolishment of slavery, we now openly acknowledge that Slavery By Another Name kept millions of African Americans in actual bondage through imprisonment on false charges and involuntary servitude from which there was no recourse for release, a practice with full collusion with elected officials that continued until World War II.

After countless legal and social struggles to abolish the Jim Crow laws and segregationist policies of the 20th centuries, we now recognize a New Jim Crow era came into being through the purportedly color-blind policies of mass incarceration that, to an alarming degree, disproportionately keeps African Americans disenfranchised and imprisoned.  

And with Ta-Nahisi Coates’ haunting reprisal of the Reconstruction-era black politicians lament We Were Eight Years In Power, there is little doubt that after the Obama presidency, we now live in the racial undertow that helped fuel the election of President Trump.

If Dr. King had survived to celebrate his 90th birthday among us this year, he would not be a moderate voice for gradual social change. He never was. But he would have carried the mantle of love, love that he believed until his last breath was our only hope. “Hatred is not overcome by hatred,” he said more than once. “Only love can do that.”

Among the many commemorations of King’s life across the city this weekend, later today Washington National Cathedral will present The Other America, a service in which excerpts of a speech Dr. King gave at Stanford University in 1967 will be read and amplified by musical and dance performances.

This is King at his most somber and unflinching: “There are literally two Americas,” he said.

“One America is beautiful. . . This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies; and culture and education for their minds; and freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America, millions of people experience every day the opportunity of having life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all of their dimensions. And in this America millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity.

But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men and women walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

In a sense, the greatest tragedy of this other America is what it does to little children. Little children in this other America are forced to grow up with clouds of inferiority forming every day in their little mental skies. As we look at this other America, we see it as an arena of blasted hopes and shattered dreams. Many people of various backgrounds live in this other America. Some are Mexican Americans, some are Puerto Ricans, some are Indians, some happen to be from other groups. Millions of them are Appalachian whites. But probably the largest group in this other America in proportion to its size in the Population is the American Negro.”

Up until the very end, King’s eyes were wide open to the problems and struggles of our land, yet he refused to give up hope. He was no Pollyanna, but he drew deeply, from the most profound reservoirs of spiritual strength in order to persevere in love. “I’ve decided to stick with love,” he said. “Hate is too great a burden to bear.” These are the same reservoirs we must draw from daily if we are to continue on the long road toward justice.  

Today I tend his humble tribute with the words he often used to end his speeches. May you and I take them to heart, dare to live them ourselves, giving thanks this day that such a man lived among us:

Now let me say finally that we have difficulties ahead but I haven't despaired. Somehow I maintain hope in spite of hope. And I've talked about the difficulties and how hard the problems will be as we tackle them. But I want to close by saying this afternoon, that I still have faith in the future. And I still believe that these problems can be solved. And so I will not join anyone who will say that we still can't develop a coalition of conscience.

And so I refuse to despair. I think we're gonna achieve our freedom because however much America strays away from the ideals of justice, the goal of America is freedom.

And I say that if the inexpressible cruelties of slavery couldn't stop us, the opposition that we now face, including the so-called white backlash, will surely fail. We're gonna win our freedom because both the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of the Almighty God are embodied in our echoing demands.

And so I can still sing "We Shall Overcome." We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward Justice. We shall overcome because Carlyle is right, "No lie can live forever." We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right, "Truth crushed to earth will rise again." We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right, "Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne — Yet that scaffold sways the future." With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discourse of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to speed up the day when all of God's children, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and live together as brothers and sisters, all over this great nation. That will be a great day, that will be a great tomorrow. In the words of the Scripture, to speak symbolically, that will be the day when the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy.

I can’t think of place I’d rather be today than here in this church, the first African American church of this diocese, founded by a proud people, whose legacy is entrusted to us. I give thanks for the opportunity to remember King in your company, to hear his words, and recommit ourselves to persevere in faith, hope, and love toward that glorious day.