The Church of Our Redeemer, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and The Episcopal Church USA have long proclaimed our Christian call to seek justice and reconciliation. In baptism, we promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, to strive for justice and peace, and to respect the dignity of every human being.
We believe that we are called to follow Jesus’s example in working for social justice. Speaking truth to power – recognizing injustice and acting positively for reconciliation – is one of the keys to building the Beloved Community. Redeemer is committed to actively work for racial justice and anti-racism in our own community and beyond. We are supported in this work by resources from The Episcopal Church USA and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
During the summer of 2020 the nation responded to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and began a renewed reckoning with the violence of racial injustice. Redeemer’s Racial Equity Action Group asked the Vestry to approve placing a banner in front of the church supporting the movement for Black lives. With Vestry approval, a banner stating “Black Lives Matter” was in place by the fall of 2020. REAG members then led two adult forums in the fall of 2020 exploring the theological and spiritual meaning of saying that Black lives matter.
Reflecting on “Black lives matter”
Christian faith proclaims that we are all formed in God’s image. Our great and marvelous diversity does not obscure our common humanity. How is saying that “Black lives matter” consistent with this fundamental truth?
We do believe that all lives matter – but if we only declare “All Lives Matter”, we ignore the overwhelming evidence that the lives of Black brothers and sisters have been treated as if they have not mattered. When the lives of some are denied, devalued and dehumanized we must call that out. To say that “Black Lives Matter” is therefore not a statement against anyone. It is a way of acknowledging those who have lived for centuries with the legacy of direct violence and discrimination at the hands of individuals and institutions.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry puts it this way: “… let’s take seriously the injustices and the wrongs that are right in front of us…. We must declare that [Black lives matter] because all lives do matter. The lives of police officers matter. [But] you have to deal with what is right in front of us.”
Our parish Collect declares that we are called to restore unity and justice, and that love brings us together in a community where all are welcome. This echoes the Diocese of MA mission strategy to become “Seekers of justice”, which states: We recognize the dignity and inherent worth of every person, and we work to build communities where all people find fairness, compassion and the freedom to live fully. We persevere in resisting evil, not just our own sins but the deep, structural sins of racism and oppression perpetuated in our name. We turn to the Lord for the grace to create honest dialogue, lasting transformation and true reconciliation.
Redeemer’s commitment may best be summarized by a statement from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and The Episcopal Church on the church’s Responding to Racism site: Wherever and whenever hatred or bigotry rises up and is directed at any child of God, we who follow Jesus of Nazareth and therefore stand for love, must act. We must stand up, speak up and show up.