Bishop Duncan-Probe is offering a weekly video message to update you on how the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is ministering in the midst of multiple crises. This week’s message focuses on how we as a Diocese will confront the crisis of racism and racist violence in the year ahead as we learn together how to love God, one another, and all creation.
Each weekly message will be posted on the diocesan Facebook page and on the homepage of the diocesan website (scroll down to News & Updates). We will also distribute the message by direct email to clergy, wardens, and parish offices, and include it in the Messenger, our weekly email newsletter.
Greetings friends. I just finished meeting with the clergy of this diocese. We had a good conversation about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in this time. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you. That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will all know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” To know that we’re followers of Jesus is to love others with the same self-sacrificing love that Jesus has for us.
I wonder in this time, in this week of such tragedy, George Floyd’s brutal and heartless murder, the protests, challenging words, tear gas and rubber bullets that have been fired. How might we fulfill the commandment of Jesus as people in the Diocese of Central New York? First and foremost, we need to listen. We need to listen to voices that are unlike ours and recognize that those people are speaking from their heart words that may be painful for us to hear, but words that are true and that we must hear if we were to prevent something like this from happening again.
Institutional racism, dehumanization, have marred America for far too long. You and I together as followers of Jesus have a responsibility to listen to voices, to be educated on why people are acting the way they are acting and to be educated in how you and I might be complicit with what is happening. And, once we’ve listened and become educated, to then act and repent on what we’ve heard and learned. This year in the diocese, we will have such a year as that. We will listen. We will be educated. We will learn together. We will act, and we will respond by repenting of the sin of institutional racism, working side by side for the dignity of all human beings. We are the people of God and we are called to live as people of God. It will not be easy. And there is great sadness and grief in this time. And we must feel those feelings and process our grief.
But together, we also have a purpose that is bigger than our grief and our fear. And that purpose is the love of Jesus Christ. Our Vision Statement, “a world healed by love.” And our Mission Statement speaks so much about what we will be doing this year, learning to love God, one another, and all God has created. We will learn together and learning by its very nature means having the humility to know we do not know enough. We will pray together. We will connect together and work as one. Speaking the truth, sharing our stories and responding by stewarding all God has given us for the purposes of Jesus Christ.
Dear friends, in this time, do not lose heart. God is bigger than what is broken and God’s redemption is for all; even for us, even in our ignorance of what is happening and how we might be part of the problem. We will work together, you and I. We will work together. We will listen. We will learn and we will respond. May God bless you. May God keep you. May you know that you are loved by God and may your love for others show that you are indeed a Christian, that you’re a follower of Jesus by your love. Blessings be upon you.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York