During this time of crisis, English-speaking Catholic artists have come together with this message of hope. We hope you enjoy this Salt + Light Media presentation.
As the Hon. John Robert Lewis enters the nearer presence of our Lord, we pray for rest and peace for his soul and comfort for his family, as we mourn the loss of a great leader in the cause of racial justice and healing in our country.
Mr. Lewis, born to sharecroppers in Alabama in 1940, became one of the original Freedom Riders, and he worked his entire lifetime with tireless physical and moral courage in opposition to racism. One of the organizers of the March on Washington, Mr. Lewis may be best known for his leadership in the March 7, 1965 (“Bloody Sunday”) march across the Edmund Pettus bridge, a moment that galvanized Americans in the 20th century civil rights movement.
Mr. Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986 and re-elected 16 times. The list of his actions to confront racism, and the catalogue of insults and physical injuries he sustained in response, fills pages. Controversial on a variety of issues to the end, he was nevertheless awarded over 50 honorary degrees (in addition to his earned degree in religion and philosophy), as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The willingness to risk censure, hardship, and extreme physical violence at the hands of white supremacists and corrupt officials, for the cause of justice and human rights for black Americans, opened the eyes of many to the injustice and inhumanity of deeply embedded racist norms and laws. Mr. Lewis’ work was instrumental in beginning to dismantle Jim Crow culture – a significant step toward justice and healing.
The Diocese of Virginia honors the legacy of this brave and faithful American. We ask your prayers for the repose of his soul and for comfort of his family. We pray that the Holy Spirit will animate us with the passion and conviction that Mr. Lewis brought to the struggle for justice and healing. May his memory continue to inspire us with boldness, courage, and confidence that in loving our neighbor – all our neighbors – as ourselves, we may bring this country and this world into ever-closer alignment with God’s dream of peace and joy among all people.
Because structural racism gets discussed so reluctantly within white enclaves, it’s little wonder that racial illiteracy rears its head when a death like George Floyd’s occurs and millions take to the streets. Suddenly white innocence gets exposed, and people race to catch up on what they have largely ignored. Hefty reading lists get shared. Antiracism titles go on back order. Uncomfortable conversations about white privilege tumble into the open as people try out new vocabularies and test their voice.
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What happens when a mosque moves across the street from a church in the Bible Belt? When an Islamic center purchased a plot of land opposite a church in Memphis, Tennessee, the local Muslim community expected hostility. Pastor Steve Stone had something else in mind.
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"... I have never (literally never) had to pause and consider anything other than my hopes for my own actualization. Whether certain opportunities might be denied me; whether those in authority might treat me poorly; whether I might be profiled nefariously because I am somewhere I look out of place…I’ve never had to consider any of these things. But if I did have to do so—every moment of every day—how might I respond and react? How might indignation and frustration build in me? And then, if I saw every attempt at peaceful demonstration denigrated as unpatriotic; and if I repeatedly saw unarmed people who look like me molested, harmed, and killed by bad actors with the authority to protect; what would I do then? Not what would some hypothetical person do then, but what would I do then?"
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For church leaders and elder boards everywhere, the last few months have presented a near-constant array of complex challenges related to shepherding a church during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest complex challenge is perhaps the trickiest yet: how to prudently resume in-person gatherings.
As if the logistical details weren’t challenging enough—how to maintain social distance and limit crowd size, whether or not to require masks, to sing or not to sing, what to do with children, and so on—the whole conversation is fraught with potential for division. If a congregation—and within it, a leadership team—is at all a microcosm of our larger society, it will likely contain a broad assortment of strongly held convictions.
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"In studies of people isolated in submarines, space stations or polar bunkers, researchers have found there appears to be an inflection point where the frustration and hardship of being cooped up inside gets suddenly harder to bear."
"Dr Kimberley Norris, an authority on confinement and reintegration at University of Tasmania, told Hack that Australians have broadly been through two periods of isolation: an initial point where there was panic buying and confusion, and then a "honeymoon period" when it felt novel and different to stay at home."
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"...we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air."
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A word to the Church regarding the theology of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church:
"Sacraments are actions that give new meaning to things. The current questions about the way we worship in a time of radical physical distancing invites the question of what we are prepared for a given sacramental encounter to mean. Sacraments are communal actions that depend on “stuff”: bread and wine, water and oil. They depend on gathering and giving thanks, on proclaiming and receiving the stories of salvation, on bathing in water, on eating and drinking together. These are physical and social realities that are not duplicatable in the virtual world. Gazing at a celebration of the Eucharist is one thing; participating in a physical gathering and sharing the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist is another. And, God, of course, can be present in both experiences."
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