This week I am deeply saddened to watch events unfolding in Charlotte. Though I haven’t spent much time in that city in recent years, I was born there. I have a lot of friends and colleagues in churches in Charlotte. We all know it’s a city that is for many a place of growth and prosperity. But we also know that many there struggle to make ends meet as well, and that like Greensboro, has a difficult history with regards to race.
Many of you, like me, have begun to see the impact of systemic racism. As I write this it is less than two days after the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott and there are few if any conclusions that can be drawn. But pain that has surfaced in the wake of that tragic shooting is yet another reminder that we have a long way to go towards healing, and that we cannot get there without grace and the presence of God.
But grace can lead us home, even in such unsettling times. These are times when we as Christians can seek healing and reconciliation through practices of listening, loving, and respecting the dignity of every human being.
For some months now, a dedicated group of parishioners at St. Andrew’s has been meeting to explore how we as a parish might follow God’s call to provide healing and reconciliation to a world sickened by racism. The group has included parishioners who are writers, teachers, students, retirees and teenagers as well as folk from other churches. All of these people seek not only to heal racism in themselves and in the community, but to walk more closely with Jesus through humility, repentance and forgiveness. This is what the Body of Christ looks like in the wake of of so much pain.
Now it’s our turn. Over the next year St. Andrew’s Racial Justice and Reconciliation Ministry will open this process up to all who wish to join. On October 19th at 6pm all are welcome to gather and simply listen to one another, sharing stories of our lives and exploring listening as a discipline and a practice for healing. That may not seem like much, but so often meaningful change starts by telling stories. Listening is an act of love, and is perhaps the best way to begin.
More such offerings will be offered throughout the year on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. If you would like to know more, please reach out to me, to the Rev. Audra Abt, or to Joe Stultz.
Please join me in praying for the people of Charlotte, and that the people of North Carolina can begin to see a vision of community in which every single person is seen and respected as a beloved child of God.