News from General Convention
As I write this (Wednesday evening), we are at the end of Day 7 – two more days to go!
This afternoon, I had the privilege of voting for marriage equality in the Episcopal Church. The convention has authorized two services, one an adaptation of the blessing liturgy I helped develop 3 years ago, the other an adaptation of the Prayer Book marriage service. Any couple may use any of these services.
My fellow deputy from California, the Rev. Vanessa Glass, captioned this picture: “From our hands and our hearts prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude to all who have made marriage equality a reality in the Episcopal Church!!!”
Yet that is only one of the momentous actions of General Convention this week. We elected a new Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina – the first African American Presiding Bishop – by an overwhelming majority. The atmosphere at convention last Saturday was electric!
Beyond these specific decisions, in my conversations and in our legislation and our debates, I sense a hopefully energy and joyful spirit alive in the Episcopal Church. This is my 5th General Convention, and we’re talking – and legislating – more than ever before about evangelism and church planting and congregational revitalization.
I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say as I reflect on my experience. I am grateful for your prayers and support, and I look forward to being with you on Sunday.
From Missy Longshore
Have you been overwhelmed by recent events such as the shooting deaths of 9 people of faith in a church in Charleston, SC, the rash of church arson hate crimes across the South, or the McKinney, TX pool party incident involving a police officer targeting young African Americans? I have, too. As a white person of privilege, it can be hard to know how to respond during these difficult times, especially when the events taking place feel far away.
But I know I must act. As a Christian, as a woman raised by a former Jesuit who deeply instilled social justice values in me from an early age, and as a human, I can’t have a summer as usual while others are suffering. But what can I do? The answer: a lot. Here are some suggestions:
1. Attend the Black Lives Matter at All Souls gathering on Sunday, July 12, from 12:15-1:15pm in the Parish House. We will pray, read from the Charleston Syllabus, discuss, and plan ways All Souls can work for racial justice on a sustained basis. Childcare on the playground will be provided by members of the group; please bring a finger food to share if you’re able. More info available here on an ongoing basis: http://bit.ly/BLMatAllSouls.
2. Attend Toni Battle’s presentation on reconciliation on Wednesday, July 8 at 7pm at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way.
3. Give money to support people of color led efforts, such as this campaign to support the Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland this month, or donate to the Rebuild the Churches Fund.
4. Speak out publicly against racism by writing a letter to the editor and contacting news outlets to encourage coverage of these vital news stories. Click here for suggestions and a sample letter.
Get active: Consider volunteering to lead, publicize, or provide food and child care for a Black Lives Matter event at All Souls. Join the local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). Educate yourself, and advocate for policy change.
Faith in the World
Beverly sits in the back of my class, surveying the madness that is continuation high school. Everyone wants my attention at once, no one is waiting patiently with a hand raised, a loud urgency fills the room. Catching my eye, she shakes her head: “I know you pray, Ms. Feeley, cause these kids are crazy. They need prayer.”
I honestly believe that I could not do my job without prayer. I work with a “difficult” crowd, struggling students. They come to us because they are missing academic credits, because they have failed classes, because – a parent died or a relative was shot or they have a drug habit or they got sick or – you get the point. This deficit is what we attempt to address. But my greatest ally through the years has not been a world-class textbook or finely honed standardized test but the power of relationships. And Jesus has some amazing insights about relationships.
Begin with love. Forgive. Listen. Find the pain and offer some form of healing. These practical tools help me to cut through the suspicion, anger, and apathy that are hallmarks of adolescence. One loud girl, always hungry, accepts a banana from me and it becomes a daily ritual. Suddenly, she is reading aloud every day and has my back when others don’t want to comply. Someone is constantly yelling. I keep my voice low, ask why she’s angry, listen. “Why don’t you yell at us?” or “Would you hit us if you could?” they ask, expecting punishment. Every belligerent or sassy or painfully quiet student is made and loved by God – as am I – and this will get us through.
Daily, as I commute to work, I pray that the students will be calm and peaceful, that the adults will be patient and wise. My students come from all over Vallejo, bringing old grudges and bad habits but also a desire to reform, a thirst for change. It’s not difficult to find a greater purpose in my work, but old feelings of despair still tug: this kid will never make it, is too far behind, look at his record. I am tempted to focus on our failures, and even to say that we have a school full of them; but our faith teaches us that anything is possible.
So the girl from El Salvador, who missed a year of school, was this year’s valedictorian; and the boy who attended six high schools and never thought he’d graduate received numerous scholarships and raucous applause for his uplifting commencement address; and the girl who was always sick and the boy whose mother died – they graduated, too.
Jesus has many parables about planting seeds; I like to think that my students – who, like any garden, require constant tending and patience – embody the miraculous change that time and grace can allow. To be present as a witness to that change is really the biggest blessing of all, and my faith lets me see it clearly.
Presiding Bishop-Elect Michael Curry
Last Sunday during the parish announcements we mentioned the opportunity to live-stream General Convention’s closing eucharist, at which Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry will be preaching. The eucharist will start tomorrow at 7:30 am California time (8:30 am in Salt Lake City).
The link for the live webcast is here: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/gc/video/worship/.
You can download a service bulletin here (choose the one for Day 9): http://www.generalconvention.org/home/worship.
Interfaith Vigil to Support Immigrant Detainees
Join together with folks from All Souls and other Bay Area faith communities on July 4, 11 am-12 pm, and the 1st Saturday of every month. The vigil includes prayer, sacred stories, song, teaching and more to support detainees at the West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond.
All Souls at the Ballpark!
Come cheer on the A’s with All Souls! Saturday, Aug 1, A’s vs Cleveland. The game starts at 6pm, but we’ll gather for a 4:45 tailgate party. See Don Gates to sign up by July 15. The all-inclusive ticket price, including the tailgate party, is $27.
All-ages Summer Sunday School
Beginning in July, we’ll bring all the kids together for a special summer Sunday school, involving music, art, outdoor fun, and stories. See you there, starting at 10:10 this Sunday, July 5!