To the Good People of the Diocese of Olympia,
I bring you greetings from day 9 of Lambeth Conference 2022 being held in Canterbury, England. For those of you who are interested in this, usually decade only, event, the media has certainly covered much of what has happened to this point. It has been a fast and furious conference, made shorter for both economic and health reasons. While packed, it has also been spirit filled. Many of you followed the somewhat rocky start, in which I added some of my thoughts. Indeed, our Episcopal Church House of Bishops was not the only province within the communion quite concerned about the “bait and switch” nature of the various Calls being presented and that came to the participants just a few days before our arrival here. If you followed that, you know that in that communication we were told that we would be voting, something that in all the build up to the conference had never been mentioned. I am happy to say early on in this conference this was abandoned. I give the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, and leaders great commendation for listening and adjusting to this desire. In fact, we only actually voted and used the little digital machines once. We have never see them again.
Of all the “Calls”, the two most controversial, were expected to be, and indeed were, Human Dignity, which ironically was the one including a reaffirmation of Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 that affirmed that marriage was only recognized by Anglicans as between a man and a woman. This too, was one of the week early “surprises” sent to us. The other controversial Call was the one on Anglican Identity, which held several ideas that, quite frankly, are anathema to Anglicanism, and a complete polity change to our common life. Much in this Call would have made this church more of a Roman Catholic type polity and not a federation of independent provinces bound together by the Archbishop of Canterbury and prayer and relationship. Quite frankly this was one of the major reasons I was drawn initially to Anglicanism and ultimately gave myself to the life of it through ordination. Though not nearly as present in the media ahead of this conference it was one of my major concerns, and I was so thankful, as it turned out, of so many others here as well.
I want to say here that ultimately, once the voting machines were abandoned, and even more, once we began meeting in our small groups, for Bible study, and for relationship, both of these Calls and all the others, came to the beautiful “middle way” that is also such an appealing part of Anglicanism for me, and for so many that call it home. More on that later as to me, this is the beauty and the brilliance of this gathering and of our common life in this greater Communion.
Some of the other Calls, in my mind, are far more important for the Church, the Earth, and the inhabitants of it, and is truly where our true attention should be directed. And, through the work of the Holy Spirit, and also to the faith and leadership of our Archbishop of Canterbury, I believe this conference has now turned its attention to these more pressing matters. Creation Care and Climate Justice is one of those. This, is where I have put much of my energy while here, and this is what was celebrated, discussed and highlighted in our day at Lambeth Palace just finished yesterday.
Now, back to the beginning “unpleasantness”. In one of two of our special called meetings here of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops we discussed at great length what to do with the various hiccups sent to us at the last hour, voting, resolution 1.10, the exclusion of our LGBTQ+ people, etc. One Holy Spirit moment in this was the urging of those of us who attended 2008 Lambeth, and the few who actually were at 1998, to take a deep breath, to, as Brene Brown so well teaches, “take heed of the story you are making up about others” you have not discussed or met with, or tried to be in relationship with yet. Most often the story you are making up is not the story, and most usually the story they are making up about you isn’t either. Constantly, in the good, intentional, committed work that does happen at Lambeth, this is revealed. As one of my colleagues said, “we haven’t even started Bible Study yet, let’s do that and see where the Holy Spirit leads us.” I believe that worked, very well, and again brought us together in a way that led to some most amazing decisions about all of the issues before us. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his remarks during the Human Dignity discussion, we are a federation of very diverse provinces, in some, in which not upholding marriage as only between a man and woman will do harm to the Church and its members, and also those who, without moving forward with a theology of the holiness of same sex marriage does detriment to the Church and the people. Anglicanism if nothing else, is a place, a container, historically and in purpose, has always been a house where such differences could be held together in the reality that, ultimately we follow one Lord, Jesus Christ. In that one thing, that one focus, that one hope is our unity. We will differ on many things, but in Christ, we are united. That is not only a great witness to the Church writ large, but to this earth as well. I don’t only believe that, here have seen it with my own eyes.
I think I speak for all here, that your prayers for our continued work in these last days are coveted, and needed. As you do that for us, we all do it for you, across this globe, Anglicans joined together in our diversity and our oneness. On the blog portion of this website, I offer several links that will more fully explore some of what I have stated above. Included in this is a letter from “Inclusive Bishops” addressed to the LGBTQ+ community. Please know that some of the early renditions of this did not include my name, ONLY because I had not been asked or presented with it. Two things, I was in London a day before Lambeth day and not here to sign, and it was not sent out on our HOB listserv so as not to appear coercive to those who would not want to sign it. But please know I signed it as soon as I was given a chance to. No need to write to me about your dismay about not being on it if you see versions in the press that do not contain my name. I hope those of you that know me would trust me more than that.
Be assured, if there is any anxiety, that nothing that has happened here which will affect our purpose and mission in the Diocese of Olympia or the Episcopal Church, save to strengthen it, through our oneness and unity in Christ Jesus with our siblings across this globe. I write to you rejoicing in that reality and blessed to be on that journey with all of you.
Bishop’s Statement on LGBTQ+: www.bit.ly/InclusiveLambeth2022
Main Lambeth Conference site; https://www.lambethconference.org/
Discussion on Human Dignity at Lambeth 2022: https://www.lambethconference.org/bishops-at-lambeth-conference-discuss-the-lambeth-call-on-human-dignity/
Lambeth Day at Lambeth Palace on Creation Care: https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2022/08/03/at-lambeth-palace-bishops-and-spouses-celebrate-launch-of-anglican-communion-forest-initiative/
You can Join the You Tube Lambeth Channel as well to get livestream as well as highlights from each day.
To the Good People of the Diocese of Olympia,
We wrapped up the long awaited, and delayed, 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. We met at the Baltimore Convention Center, a building that we learned by living in it for five days, has no direct route from one place to the next! I mean this with all the best, it seemed like a perfect place to hold an Episcopal convention! Actually, I want to commend this city, and its people, who have welcomed us warmly. The very same to Bishop Eugene Sutton and the good people of the Diocese of Maryland, our hosts.
Olympia shined brightly here. We have some amazing leaders in our deputation and across our Church. One of the highlights was by far was the election of the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, Rector of Trinity, Everett, as Vice President of the House of Deputies. But we also saw many resolutions that originated here, and work that originated here, approved and made part of the larger Episcopal story. Both resolutions regarding Israel/Palestine made it to the discussion here and one was passed. Some of the excellent work on safeguarding and sexual harassment especially by our Chancellor Judy Andrews, who Chairs that work, was also moved forward. I will not steal the thunder of our House of Deputies, deputation, but I hope you will pay attention as they share the accomplishments of that House and this Church together.
As for me, I served this last six years on the Program, Budget, and Finance Committee of the Episcopal Church and the Assessment Review Committee. This convention made a move to dissolve the PB and F and redesign this process, something I totally support. The work of the Assessment Review Committee was apparent as almost all of our dioceses are up to date and paying their full assessment. This was far from true just a few conventions ago. What I might continue to serve on will be decided by new leadership in the days to come. I was re-elected to the Church Pension Fund Board for another, what will turn out to be, 5 year term.
I have to admit this convention went much better than I was afraid it might, just process wise. All those who put it together are to be commended. So, hats off to our deputation with special thanks to Maria Gonzales, Deputation Leader. They represented you very well, with dignity and honor.
Ash Wednesday and Lent
Executive Order 9066
On this day, February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed this order and by so doing authorized the evacuation of all persons of Japanese descent, alien or non-alien, which were deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland. In the next 6 months, over 100,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were moved to assembly centers. They were then evacuated to and confined in isolated, fenced, and guarded relocation centers, euphemously known as internment camps but much better described as concentration camps, or prisons. It is a sad mark on our country. I had the honor of visiting Minidoka, one of those prisons, where many from Seattle were sent. Visiting Minidoka is something anyone can do, and I would urge you to consider it, as well as the others scattered around the West and as far East as Arkansas. This is a day that reminds us what fear and racism can cause for us all and what our racism leads us to do and be. On this day I felt it would be a good day to remind you all of the resolution passed two years ago at our diocesan convention commending the Anti-Racism Covenant. You will find that below. I also commend the newsletter from the Friends of Minidoka. You can find that here mailchi.mp/124f3a08aa34/introducing-our-new-executive-director-13725686?e=8bb445ef5a
You can read more about this Covenant, see the list of signers, and sign yourself here
Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”
1 John 4:20
The sin of racism disrupts the harmony and oneness that God intends for humanity. Racism is dangerous, divisive, and damaging. Racism purports that some are deserving of dignity over others and disregards the image and likeness of God found in every human being. We are created in the image of God; therefore, to engage in racism of any form is to refuse to acknowledge the image of God in the other and the stranger. The fact that we were created in the image of God should remind us that each person is a living expression of God that must be respected, preserved, and never dishonored.
Throughout our history, courageous people of God have taken the risk of standing up and speaking out for the least and the lowest. God now challenges us to become courageous people who seek to create sacred communities of hope by dismantling the sin of racism. This work involves risking ourselves for the sake of God’s love, moving beyond ourselves in order to seek and serve Christ and one another.
We invite you to add your name to this covenant and join us as we work to root out racism. Individuals, parishes, groups, dioceses as well as community leaders and businesses are all welcome to be a part of this project.
We lament…As people of faith, we acknowledge our sins and our failure to respect the dignity of every human being. We have, individually and corporately, fallen short of the glory of God, and now call to mind and name the aspects of our lament.
Unbalanced, Unjust, Untenable
I was saddened to learn of the verdict today in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the young man who traveled to Kenosha, WI last year and fatally shot two people, seriously injuring a third. The incident brought to the surface many of the issues that our country wrestles with - and all-too-often attempts to ignore - around racial justice, white vigilantism, and gun violence. Rittenhouse came to Kenosha, heavily armed, as part of a mob of white men to stop the protests for racial justice and took two lives. Under the auspices of protecting property, he came prepared to commit violent acts and did just that. As the prosecutor stated, there is a difference in defending yourself from violence perpetrated against you, and you creating the situation in order for you to do it - or more specifically, “You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you are the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people.”
As the verdict came in today, it has been widely observed that we have two legal systems in this country - one for white men, and one for everyone else. Many have suggested that if Rittenhouse had been Black, the verdict would have been drastically different. I would go further - when you watch the videos of that night, I would say if Rittenhouse had been Black, he most likely would not have come out of that night alive. A young white man brazenly carrying an automatic weapon through city streets was virtually ignored by law enforcement. Had it been a Black man, I do believe the result would be drastically different.
In these same days we are witnessing the trial of the ambush of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, in Brunswick, Georgia. And even with all the accused admitting that Arbery was unarmed and ultimately not threatening them, and all evidence pointing to Arbery trying to flee the scene unarmed, this case hangs in this unjust balance as well. In both cases, we see self-appointed vigilante’s taking justice into their own hands. And folks, if it can happen to these folks, it can just as easily happen to any of us.
But, the point is, mostly, it doesn’t. Especially if we are white, if we are privileged, if we have enough money to defend ourselves. We simply must do better, and we must be better.
This comes only one day after a judge in New York “prayed” about the sentencing of a young white man who had pleaded guilty to charges rape, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment and only gave the man probation because he said that prison time "wasn’t appropriate" (https://lawandcrime.com/crime/judge-prayed-about-it-and-decided-that-prison-time-for-admitted-rapist-of-teen-girls-isnt-appropriate/).
We know that incarceration rates for Black Americans is five times the rate of white Americans, and for Latin Americans it is 1.3 times higher (https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/). According to the ACLU, women who kill their abusers will spend an average of 15 years in prison, while men who kill their spouses spend two to six years in prison (https://www.domesticshelters.org/articles/in-the-news/women-serve-longer-prison-sentences-after-killing-abusers). Men from Indigenous communities are four times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, while Indigenous women are six time more likely (https://www.jailedformelanin.org/native-commuities).
Justice is supposed to be blind, but time and time again, our justice system has been proven to favor white men. It is severely out of balance.
I pray for all involved in this case, including Kyle Rittenhouse. I pray for all the victims of gun violence. I pray for our country and for our justice system. There is so much that needs to change. Let’s engage and act so that we may see a more just system going forward. To get involved in making our criminal justice system equitable, you can see what steps The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations recommends here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/ogr/get-involved-with-criminal-justice-reform/
By Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States, Member of the Muscogee Nation, from her book, “An American Sunrise”
A CALL AND RESPONSE
A country is a person.
A country is a noun, to be bought and sold. I have a deed.
The ruler’s disposition and rules determine the state of being for all constituents.
Each state governs itself without respect for individuals. It’s everyone for themselves.
Power is dangerous when wielded in the hands of one. It is meant to be shared.
I was given this position by cunning, by money, by sex, by family, by God. It belongs to me and no one else.
We cannot own anyone else, people, the lands, or resources. We are here to care for each other.
We are right. We build walls to keep anyone else who is not like us out of here. God gave us these lands. We separate children and cage them because they are breaking our God’s law.
Every increment of any thought, action, or deed matters, has consequences in all directions.
Not if you can make a law: Not if it passes the Supreme Court. Not if we pay for it.
There will be no balance without all voices present in the power circle.
You will never earn your way here. You are the wrong sex, wrong color of skin, wrong sexual orientation, not my religion, not my language.
We are making our grandchildren’s world with our words. We perceive a world in which everyone sits at the table together, with enough for everyone.
We will make this country great again.
Sad ruling today in my mind and heart, and our Presiding Bishop says it best.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issues statement on Fulton v. Philadelphia
[June 17, 2021]
My heart is with my LGBTQ siblings in light of today's ruling by the Supreme Court in Fulton v. Philadelphia.
For us, the affirmation of equal rights for all people is a moral and religious conviction; it is grounded in the Bible, which declares that all people have been created equally in the image of God.
LGBTQ siblings, we stand with you in this moment, and we continue to affirm that you are — and have always been — a blessing to our church. But above all, you are children of God with the entire human family. The struggle does not end here; the work goes on, and we are committed to the fullness of human equality and to building a just future that is free from discrimination against LGBTQ people.
We are also concerned for the impact of this ruling on the foster care system, in which so many Episcopalians offer shelter and care to vulnerable children, many of whom are LGBTQ themselves. It is important to remember that the New Testament teaches that “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress. . .” (James 1:27).
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
More information on the brief The Episcopal Church submitted to the Supreme Court can be found here.
On the web:
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issues statement on Fulton v. Philadelphia
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel is the VIII Bishop of Olympia, the Episcopal Church in Western Washington State. He has been the bishop here since September, 2007.