Dear Fellow Church Members,
As the Clergy and Wardens of St. James’s, we have all been grieved by the death of George Floyd, the latest in a long and devastating history of violence against people of color, and the subsequent violence that has spread across our nation. We have seen peaceful and legitimate protests spill into outbreaks of violence and destruction.
Unfortunately, our city of Richmond has not been exempt, and our church did sustain some minor property damage in the uprising Saturday night. Thankfully, the damage was limited to a broken marquee sign and some spray paint on another sign, which we were able to quickly address.
We are, however, more concerned with the damage to Congregation Beth Ahabah where two windows in their new building were smashed out. Our rector has visited with Rabbi Scott Nagel and assured him that our community of faith stands ready to support our brothers and sisters at Beth Ahabah in any way that may be needed.
The discord following these tragic events reminds all of us that deep racial wounds and tensions still exist in our nation. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry penned a powerful Opinion piece in Sunday’s Washington Post (read it here) setting forth his hopeful and much-needed message that these times require a return to love.
We are called to channel our constructive efforts through love, understanding, acknowledgment, and reconciliation rather than violence and anger. We are reminded of the powerful and inspiring unity we experienced during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Evensong held at St. James’s to celebrate his enduring message of reconciliation.
We want the St. James’s church family to know that as your leaders we are committed to doing this hard work of racial reconciliation together, acknowledging the sins of our past and working with those in our predominantly African American Episcopal churches to chart a better future for our city. Already your clergy and lay leaders have been developing an adult formation series addressing racial justice and reconciliation to begin this fall. Stay tuned for more details to come later this summer.
While we understand there is deep frustration with recent events in our nation, we must remind ourselves that to give in to hate and violence or inaction and despair over these behaviors in others is to turn away from hope and the path of love that all Christians are called to follow.
As Jesus reminds us in John’s Gospel, God so loved the world that he sent his son to save it. The redemptive power of our Savior’s love embraces all God’s people, and we must recommit ourselves to be agents of peace and reconciliation to our broken and bleeding world.