This morning, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addressed the staff of The Episcopal Church Center (affectionately known as “815” after its street address in NYC). The occasion was the conclusion of an independent investigation into “formal complaints and allegations of potential violations of personnel policies of the DFMS” (Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society). The investigation began on December 9, 2015 when the presiding bishop put Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Sam McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, and Mr. Alex Baumgarten, Director of Public Engagement and Mission Communications on administrative leave.
I will refer you to the press release for details of the investigation’s findings and recommendations. What particularly struck me about the address, and what I will comment on, is the connection our presiding bishop makes between the seemingly mundane topic of personnel policies and the somewhat more “spiritual” concept of mission. Curry asserts that:
Our task as staff is to serve The Episcopal Church in such a way that it can serve the world in the Name and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Our commitment to taking our place as part of the Jesus Movement in the world, our commitment to the work of evangelism, our commitment to the work of racial reconciliation is directly tied to this. And I am unswerving in my commitment to that.
This link between “infrastructure” and mission is an important one. It is easy to fall into the trap of considering our responsibilities to infrastructure—taking vestry minutes, paying bills, mowing the grass—as the collection of concerns that get in the way of mission. What the presiding bishop is saying, however, is that the way we take care of these infrastructure concerns is a both reflects our faith and commitment to our neighbor and enables the expression of that faith and commitment.
As we at Holy Trinity strive to put our own house in order, we too are called to investigate the ways in which our infrastructure (or lack thereof) undermines our mission. Let us remember that the time, care and approach we take in examining our stewardship, keeping records, and mopping floors is as much a matter of mission as our outreach efforts are.
In an address a few days ago entitled, “Be Not Afraid!” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry responds to last week’s terror attacks in Paris and Beirut by urging us not to lose sight of our long commitment “to resettling refugees in our own communities fleeing violence and persecution.” He reminds us that God commands us to welcome the foreigner into our midst. As Christians, we are called to seek our ultimate security from God in Christ, not from border patrol.
This has been a distressing week, as we deal not only with the terror and grief of those attacks but also with the shame of hearing our politicians turn refugees away from our doorsteps. A couple and their five year-old son, who fled Syria in 2011, were scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday, only to be turned away by fear. They were taken in by the state of Connecticut, where the governor made excuses for us, saying “that people in the United States were generous and good people, but sometimes things happen elsewhere that cause people to forget about their generosity.” Is Hoosier Hospitality dead?
Maybe it is in the wider population, but I know that hospitality is not dead at Holy Trinity. For now, in this case, hospitality is a bit more complicated than simply bringing a dish to share. We can still participate financially in efforts by the Episcopal Migration Ministries to resettle refugees in other parts of the country. We can support Exodus Refugee, our local EMM Affiliate in Indianapolis. We can communicate our frustration and dismay to our political representatives. Above all, we can, in the words of our presiding bishop, remember that:
The fear is real. So we pray. We go to church. We remember who we are in Jesus. Our resurrection hope is larger than fear. Let nothing keep us from that hope, that faith, that security in Gods dream for all of humanity.
I commend to your reading this excellent sermon at #gc78 (the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church) by our current Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori. She addresses the “hemorrhaging” this church body has suffered over the last 12 years in light of our reading from Mark 5:21-43. Here’s a taste:
Like the unnamed daughter and the shunned and bleeding woman, this church will find new life by crossing old boundaries and exploring new territories. . . . Mother Church will continue rising from the dead if we keep crossing into new territories, in our back yards, prisons, city parks, and pockets of despair, here and across the globe. If we believe, if we’re faithful, we know that the ancient truth remains, and resurrection is always emerging from death. That healing may cost plenty of blood, sweat, and tears – but it is rooted in the firm belief that God does enlighten, heal, and deliver.
Read more at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/posts/publicaffairs/78th-general-convention-episcopal-church-june-28-sermon-presiding-bishop
This excellent article by Diana Butler Bass in the Washington Post reflects on Bp. Schori’s tenure as Presiding Bishop (which ends when the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry is installed on Nov. 1st of this year. It will give you some of the background to Bp. Schori’s remarks:
The quote below, from Associated Press reporter Rick Bowmer, describes our new Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry. It appeared with this delightful photo in this morning’s email from The Daily Office:
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry
The Bishop of North Carolina, Michael Curry, has been elected the next Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in a historic, landslide vote. A charismatic, media-savvy preacher, he will be installed this fall as the first African-American to hold the post. He’s considered a social justice liberal who is unabashedly committed to Jesus Christ. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)
Our New Presiding Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry
I am delighted to announce that the Episcopal House of Bishops has elected the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry as the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on the first ballot by a very wide margin. The House of Deputies has just confirmed the vote 800 to 12.