Dear Friends in Christ:
I invite you to join me in attending the 2013 Anti-Racism Workshop to be offered next month by our diocesan Commission on Racism. If you are in any formal position of leadership, whether in congregations or on diocesan commissions and committees, this training is required by resolution of General Convention. Apart from the rules, there are further substantial reasons why we all need to take advantage of this opportunity.
The recent Trayvon Martin case has highlighted the extent to which we, as a nation, are divided by race. I don't mean simply that there are racial tensions out there, or ample occasions for misunderstanding between people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. I mean that our experience of life in America is sharply distinguished by the color of our skin and the circumstances of our birth. I suspect that most of those of us who are white spend almost no time thinking about this reality, while people of color confront it every day. Trayvon Martin looms in the mind of every African American parent and godparent I know as a portent and a warning — an immeasurably sad and frustrating sign of how little progress we have made in breaking down the walls of race. Given the media coverage, we all now ought to be aware of “The Talk” — the conversation black parents must at some point have with their sons (and even, now, their daughters) about how to conduct themselves if stopped by the police, or when out shopping, or when they are in any public place in which their intentions could be misconstrued because of prejudicial assumptions on the part of people around them.
If you, like me, have never been stopped for “driving while white,” if you have never been watched by a nervous store employee who thought you could be a shoplifter, or had someone cross to the other side of the street because they were afraid of what they imagined you might do if they walked by you, then this training will be an important asset for your life and ministry. We are, in this diocese, far from becoming the multi-colored community envisioned in the New Testament, the Kingdom of priests “from every family, language people and nation” in which there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” But we have made important beginnings in this direction, and this training is an essential element in our hopes for the future, to increase our presence in underserved communities, raise up more leaders of color, and have a positive impact on the racial climate of our region.
Please note there is still time to register via our website for the fall training which will take place September 27 and 28 at All Souls Episcopal Church, North Versailles. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, be assured of my daily prayers for your lives, your families and your ministries.
Faithfully your Bishop,
(The Rt. Rev.) Dorsey McConnell, D.D.