Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the showing of “Traces of the Trade,” a moving documentary about one family’s journey of understanding their ancestors’ complicity in the slave trade. Last Friday a group of 30 people gathered in our Parish Hall to watch a national webcast that explored “the state of racism” 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1963. Our Bishop, The Right Reverend Michael Curry, was one of the panelists. He spoke movingly about racism being America’s “original sin,” something so deeply ingrained in our way of being that we are collectively “in bondage” to prejudicial ways of acting in the world.
After both events, participants voiced a desire to enter more deeply into conversation about the reality of racism and other injustices that prevent us from being the people God intends us to be. Whom does God intend us to be? How do we order our lives to reflect God’s dream for us? These are big questions without easy answers, and so we ponder them each week in our liturgy through the praise, confession, and sacramental nourishment. We also explore these questions through Christian Formation programs. Right now we are in the middle of a four-week series exploring “The Call to Social Justice and Outreach.” We hope that at the end of the series participants might have a clearer idea of how they are called to participate in Christ’s work of reconciliation—from acts of charity such as feeding the hungry and housing the homeless to acts of advocacy that work at the institutional level to address root causes of injustice. In “Faith, Art, and Prayer,” we are exploring connections between beauty and devotion, knowing that attending to the beautiful through art, song, and nature forms us into more compassionate people who see beauty in all of God’s creation.
I’m starting to wonder if the Spirit is nudging St. Peter’s in some particular ways, especially toward reconciliation work as we become “a beacon of hope for Center City Charlotte.” It will take all of us to discern a call from the Spirit. I hope you’ll join me in listening.
The Reverend Deacon Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector