As Memphis and the nation continues navigating a period of social unrest, we believe, now more than ever, as a community of Christians we need to address how we are to live into our Baptismal Covenant of loving God and our neighbors. As we are social distancing as best we can, the difficult questions beg for face to face meetings where we can explore how God is calling us together to meet the challenges of structural racism, economic injustice, violence, and the many other needs of Memphis.
Since the Social Justice Committee went live on June 19, Juneteenth, 2020, we have been soul searching for the focus of our work, and how we can best involve all who want to join us on this journey toward a more just Memphis. Since meetings were initially a challenge due to the pandemic, we started by creating a website portal that hosts books, articles, podcasts, movies and documentaries on current issues facing our society. Additionally, the Vestry voted unanimously to join MICAH, Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, and we welcomed the Reverend Laura Gettys to Grace St. Luke’s who will be our clergy advisor for Social Justice and Outreach. Exciting things are still to come.
The mystery of creation and the human condition calls each of us to understand and celebrate differences that make each of us who we are as God’s beloved children, made equally in the image of God (imago Dei). Regardless of our natural cautions and generalizations, inherited perspectives, and even experience-based positions about the “other,” reconciliation is a central aspect of “An Outline of the Faith commonly called the Catechism” in The Book of Common Prayer. Specifically, we are reminded in the Catechism that the Mission of the Church is to “restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”
Rooted in The Baptismal Covenant, Episcopal Christians and all people, for that matter, are invited (and vow) to: strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being; seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves; proclaim the by word and example the Good News of God in Christ; and persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, repent and turn to the Lord.” All of this is vowed to be done “with God’s help.” More than ever, the world needs the Church, the body of Christ, to lead the change that the world both needs and desires, but quite easily and naturally does not know where to begin the journey of reconciliation.
Grace-St. Luke’s Vision is to “be a thriving community of hope, belonging, and healing through worship, parish life, and service, and who rejoices in the love of Jesus to transform the world.” Remaining faithful to the Mission of the Church and our Vision, the following are resources for individuals and households to address racism, racialized violence, reconciliation, healing and justice. Periodically, the parish clergy and laity, including members of the Social Justice Team, will provide information and a broad variety of resources for one’s spiritual formation work on this complex aspect of the human family. Along the way, the parish also will provide small and large group opportunities, in-person and virtually, for fellow pilgrims to connect with others for prayer, listening, learning, and growth toward healing.