This moment of public witness comes in the midst of General Convention, a time when I am also hearing rallying cries of people “back in the pews” at home: listen to us, see us. Although I am on the sidelines watching from the media section, I am also here to bear witness and tell you: We see you. We hear you on social media, and we talk about the concerns of old and young, conservative and progressive, Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical, black and white.
Center Aisle is the Diocese of Virginia's General Convention opinion journal. We seek radical centrism: not splitting the difference between opposing views but binding those voices together in our shared faith. We hope Center Aisle will help the Church guide Episcopalians from their pews towards the shared table and into the world.
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Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Andrew McGowan: “A profound question remains largely untouched in [the BCP revision] debate: How will our liturgy reveal and help create the unity of the Body of Christ, whose relationship with the Episcopal Church is, well, inexact and incomplete?”
We like to use the language of reconciliation when we are talking about racial justice, racial relationships. But, I want to say that to reconcile essentially means that we were together, we broke apart, and now are coming back together. When we look at the history of this country and many countries around the world, there is not a time where we can look back to as a frame of reference, like, “man we really had our stuff together then. Let’s use that as our guiding star into the future.”
Bishop Bob Ihloff: “The Detention Center was stark and foreboding. Before we got closer, it was as if it were deserted. Then there were hands and pieces of paper moving in the slot windows, and acknowledgement there were people within. They could see us and we them. It was both frustrating and moving: frustrating because they couldn’t hear us and moving that we had made contact across a deep and unjust divide.”
In 2017, more than 65,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose. Millions more suffer from opioid addiction in every corner of our Church. GC79 will consider only one resolution concerning the opioid epidemic. Of course, the number of resolutions considered on any given issue is not the standard for how deeply we care, but Jan Brown, deacon of Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, Va., issues an urgent call for us to do more as a Church.
As Episcopalians, let us ask ourselves this question: How, in modern times, is evil organized? In the systematic denial of the dignity of every human being, in the way we want to detach ourselves from our history, from our deep and God-given sense of Ubuntu. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.
I was relieved to hear someone say yesterday, “We can’t hear the voices of the poor, because they are not here.” That silence can be deafening. Those living with poverty and oppression in this world have so much to share with us about where Jesus is made known in their midst. But, if we cannot hear those voices because our privilege is speaking too loudly, then it might be time to turn down the volume and listen.