From the Rector…
A new experience can change the way one thinks, believes, even acts. It can expand our minds, our hearts, and our souls to learn about that new thing and about yourself as well. When we are willing to expose ourselves to something new, we begin to broaden our world. We break free from the box we might have created and the need to fit our life and the world around us into that box. At the least, we begin to discover that there might be more than one way to think or be in the world. At the most, we begin to discover that the things, ideas, and beliefs other people value just might be as important as the ones we value. We become more inclusive and, hopefully, less judgmental. New experiences are not simply learning opportunities, they are growth opportunities.
Tomorrow night we get an opportunity for a new experience. Our brothers and sisters from across TEC (The Episcopal Church) in the UBE (Union of Black Episcopalians) have invited us to celebrate through worship and praise the Holy Eucharist with them at CoA. The service will start at 6:15pm in the Columbarium and process into the church singing African American spirituals and other culturally specific music. The Eucharist itself will be inspirational as a source of spiritual renewal and includes a tribute to John T. Lewis.
UBE originally planned their three-day conference and worship for the summer of 2020 but had to postpone due to the pandemic. They are finally here and have been exploring Civil Rights sites around the area including a youth service project in Selma on Tuesday and a pilgrimage to EJI on Wednesday. It is after their time at The Legacy Museum, that they will come to CoA for worship. Those of you who have been to the museum know its purpose and its power. The opportunity to worship after such a heavy experience is a time in which to remember our joy. We, as a predominately white worshipping community, can offer the gift of love and relationship with our brothers and sisters of color and celebrate in that joy with them.
It may seem like such a little thing, but simply coming to worship tomorrow night is a form of outreach and mission. Though the worship might be at Ascension, the use of our space for the UBE worship is an outward focus in the growing of God’s kingdom. Our presence encourages the work of UBE and helps them and us remember that Jesus calls us into relationship with God and one another as the first and second “great” commandment—”Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 23:37-40 and Luke 10:27) As we live into the life Christ calls us too, it is our presence and willingness to engage with others, especially those who are different than ourselves, that becomes our most powerful form of mission and outreach.
You’re invited tomorrow night not just to worship, but to be transformed and renewed; to extend the hand of Christian friendship; to practice hospitality; to invite yourself and others into new ways of thinking and being in the world. I encourage you not to miss this opportunity. You will be a blessing even as you are blessed by this new experience. I look forward to seeing you there.
Light and Life,
P.S. A little about UBE: They were formed in 1968 and work to unite Episcopal brothers and sisters of all colors, promote the inclusion of persons of color in church governance, work to eliminate racism in the church and society and remove obstacles for persons of color. They are leaders in building beloved community and standing against oppression of all peoples. They support HBCUs, meet regularly, and address issues like gun violence, mass incarceration, and immigration. They host weekly Bible studies, annual conferences, and virtual events to discuss relevant contemporary topics. They have also been instrumental in the Sacred Ground curriculum for the national church. Click here to find out more.
P. P. S. Our very own Becky Taylor is being recognized and will receive the first Rev. Deacon Pearl Slay Community Action Award at UBE’s Recognition Banquet tonight. Click here to read about Pearl and Becky.