Dear People of the Diocese of Olympia and beyond,
At our Diocesan Convention last October you overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting the Anti-Racism Covenant put forth initially by the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson, Bishop of Missouri, and co-sponsored by many other bishops. My name has been on this covenant since just after its posting, however, I have now, on your behalf, added not just my name and office but the entire Diocese of Olympia. I provide a link below which will take you to the official website for the Covenant where you can view those who have signed, and sign yourself. More importantly, is to read it regularly, to use it as a rule of life right now, to study it in your congregations, and to hold it up as the ideal we are striving for. My plan is to post this quarterly on this blog, and our diocesan website, to remind us as a community to continue to use it. As I said at our convention, signing such documents, passing such resolutions, really is the easy part. The difficult part, the part that will change this Church, this country, this world, is our following it, acting on it, living into it. I offer it here as I vow to do just that personally.
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.
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.