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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Race, Religion and Politics: Lord, what a time!

Today was the "September Trifecta" - our Welcome Back Sunday, Church School Registration and the kick-off event to our three-part series, "Race, Religion and Politics."

(Oh, and did I mention that the new 9/11 Memorial for the Chatham Borough was dedicated at 9:11 AM this morning. Yes, I was there for that, too. Life in the fast lane of parish ministry.)

Pictured above (in my office) are the panelists on today's Adult Forum: the Rev'd Arthur Pressley, PhD, Associate Professor of Religion and Psychology at the Theological School, Drew University, the Rt. Rev'd Barbara Harris, Bishop Suffragan of MA, retired (and, do I need to add, the first woman and first African-American woman to be consecrated bishop inTthe Episcopal Church and the World Wide Anglican Communion?), moi, and the Rev'd Winnie Varghese, Episcopal Chaplain at Columbia University, member of Executive Council and member of the National Episcopal Church's Anti-Racism Education Committee.

Bishop Harris preached a wonderful sermon entitled, "Lord, what a time!" about the state of the world and the state of the Anglican Communion.

As you can see, the Adult Forum was, at times, serious and painfully honest. I am deeply grateful to some of my African-American friends, including Bert Jones who added greatly to the discussion, as well as two wonderful folk who heard about our work and came in from Church of the Intercession, NYC to join us.

I was delighted to see so many visitors. One Caucasian woman who came to church said she has lived in Chatham for several years, but had not yet been to church. "If we can tackle tough issues like this in church, then TEC is the church for me!"

Another family came in and joined the church, registering their two kids in our Church School, saying, "I want our children to grow up in a church where their questions and concerns will be addressed, and no one dances around the issues."

Our series continues on Tuesday night at 7:30 PM when Dr. Pressley returns to discuss the psychology of anger in the Black community. On Tuesday, September 16, Rev'd Varghese returns to talk about The Reality of Racism and the Dream of God.

If you are in the area, please do feel welcome to attend. And, even if you're not in the area, please do feel warmly invited to stop by. Dessert and coffee will be served and I promise you'll be out the door by 9 PM.

One of the interesting things about the panelists is that they are separated by approximately 25 years in age - Bishop Harris was born before the Civil Rights Amendment and actively worked on it, Dr. Pressley is only four generation from slavery, and Rev'd Varghese is from South India and 35 years old - which provided a fascinating impact on their individual perspectives.

After church, I joked with the panelists about a spoof of a commercial I once heard, done by Queen Latifah on Saturday Night Live. It's about "new Excedrin for Racial Tension Headaches." (I've removed the clip because it was causing glitches in my blog.)

I only wish I had had a bottle to give them. It's so hard to have to "defend your life" but they did it with grace and intelligence and compassion without pulling any punches. Because of these honest conversations, I think some transformation has already started in some hearts and minds. I know it has for me.


FranIAm said...

Mmmm.... makes me wish I lived a bit closer.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

me, too

Muthah+ said...

wonderful! I have racial tension headaches too.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Oh, man, I haven't seen an SNL skit this good in in a county that is 93% white, I guaren-damn-tee ya that I could find plenty of people to say all those stupid things in the commercial spoof!