AdventWord 2019: 15. Turn
Our faith encourages us to turn toward one another and toward God. Under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, The Episcopal Church is called to engage Becoming Beloved Community, a set of interrelated commitments around which Episcopalians may organize our many efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers.
Across the Church, Episcopalians are turning to one another to embrace that commitment. In 2019, The Episcopal Church launched the Sacred Ground dialogue series, a curriculum of films and readings on race, grounded in faith. Through Sacred Ground, small groups of Episcopalians are encouraged to gather in their communities, turning inward to learn and reflect on America’s history of race and racism. Then, the participants turn outward to engage in racial reconciliation and racial justice in their communities.
August 2019: Episcopalians ring their church bell to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of 1619, the year when the first enslaved Africans landed in North America.
Coming together in these Sacred Ground circles is giving Episcopalians courage as they find common ground. Said one participant at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Ojai, California, “It is pretty amazing how everyone is having pretty much the same experience: being able to face racism, rather than turn away.”
The curriculum itself encourages participants to “ask genuine questions of our history, be humble students of our past, acknowledge the harms done and the harms endured – if we can do these things, then God willing, we can eventually come to some centered spot, take stock, see, sense, feel, mourn, pray, and then turn and walk back out, together.”
Other Episcopalians are living out the commitment to racial reconciliation and racial justice through the Beloved Community grant program, administered by the Presiding Officers’ Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation. The 2019 program was designed to support churches engaged in racial truth-telling, healing and reconciliation, and proclaiming the dream of racial justice and Beloved Community.
This Advent season, may we turn to one another and be open to change, transformation, community, and hope.