Armed Forces and Federal Ministries

Letter from Bishop Wright – June 4, 2020

June 4, 2020
Armed Forces and Federal Ministries

Statement from Bishop Wright

Dear Episcopal Chaplains:

I write to you all today in a time of terrible national strife and anger.  My purpose is to supplement the message clearly expressed by our Presiding Bishop in the aftermath of terrible unrest in Washington, DC and across our country for several nights.  I trust all of you received from Gerardo a copy of Bishop Michael’s press statement in your emails yesterday.  It is from that communication that I take my lead to all of you today.
The vast majority of you minister to our Armed Forces, and although I do not wish to seem exclusive of our VA and BOP chaplains, I must address myself particularly to you.  In this time of unrest and anger, it is our ministry to find God in the midst of this chaos and to communicate his truth to all in our charge.  We will be ministering to people of many levels of faith from none to extremely devout.  And we will be ministering to people of differing views of the politics of what is going on in our nation.  
I want to let you know that my thinking here is very much aligned with Bishop Michael’s, namely, “What would Jesus do in this situation?”  I offer this perspective to all of you as you contemplate how to engage with the wide spectrum of military members, DoD civilians and all families in your ministries.  It is indeed supportive of Bishop Michael’s views expressed in the press statement to carry a message of healing, consideration, justice and inclusion to our people.  People of all political feelings can identify with this simple message.
I urge all of you to remember Bishop Michael’s call to scripture in his statement: 

“The bible teaches us that “God is love.” Jesus of Nazareth taught, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The prophet Micah taught that the Lord requires us to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.”

With the foregoing in mind, we chaplains need to be guiding the general discourse, the focus of our work and the work of others with whom we come in contact toward doing right as Jesus would see the right, to foster justice as Jesus would see justice, to care for others as Jesus would care for us and would expect us to care for others.  All other temporal considerations fall away in the bright light of these guiding principles of faith.  
And we must pray for our nation, that our leaders can see clearly the path to correcting wrongs, to advancing justice and to promoting peace and understanding among all God’s children.  We must care for those who are privileged to wear the Cloth of the Nation, who give of themselves daily in the task of defending this place we call “America.”  Yet it is the total contribution of our national leadership, our Armed Forces and all of the citizens of our nation that will see us through these difficult times.  A key mission of ours as chaplains is to encourage this total contribution such that, in the very modern sense of those who have recently lost their lives, “These dead shall not have died in vain.”
God bless and keep all of you.  I am so proud to be your Bishop and to be on the same team with you.  What we must do now is double time our prayers, fully believing God who sees in secret, sees it all, knows it all and will answer our prayers in due time.”

The Rt. Rev. Ann Ritonia

Bishop for Armed Forces and Federal Ministries

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