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Episcopal Church Executive Council: opening remarks from the Presiding Bishop

July 22, 2020

The following is a transcript of the opening remarks of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, which met virtually on July 22.

Executive Council
July 22, 2020
Opening Remarks

As you well know, the entire world in varying degrees is faced with a global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus. And in each country, there may be sections that are more affected at one time, others less so. That's certainly true for those of us in the United States. And it's true, I know from listening to Bishop Allen from Honduras, and in other countries as well. And I would just remind you to keep the world in prayer and our medical caregivers and our researchers and our leaders that they will be wise and just and loving in their leadership. And to pray for each other.

These are tough times psychologically; I'm not a psychologist, but we're all a little frazzled and probably a little bit claustrophobic at this point. We've been restricted from the normal human interaction that we would have, which feeds us in a lot of ways that you don't think about until you don't have it. The truth is we are each other's biggest headaches and the truth is we need each other. And being separated like this is just tough on all of us.

And so just remember to encourage everybody to be gentle with each other, to be kind and maybe a little extra kind even. Because everybody's a little bit on edge and everybody's tired and everybody's weary and for good or ill, we've only just begun. This is not even, to borrow from Churchill, this isn't even the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. We're in this for a while.

I was on the phone doing a podcast with Archbishop Thabo from South Africa on the Way of Love podcast, and I asked him, I said, "Well, where are you? I assume you're at Bishop House, Bishop Court in Cape Town." And he said, "Yeah, I've been here for three months." And they in South Africa are in the same shape we are. I spoke with another Archbishop from Central Africa, they're in the same kind of boat. I spoke with the Archbishop of Canterbury and we Zoomed from some room in Lambeth Palace. As Shirley Chisholm said at one point, we all came over here on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now and we've got to figure out how to row together. So, pray for the whole human family.

Just as you may or may not know, the Lambeth Conference of bishops has been postponed until 2022, which again makes sense and was a wise decision considering public health. And so we presume that it will be in 2022. To my knowledge, a date hasn't been determined. So 2022 could be a busy year depending on what all is going on in that year. The bishops will be meeting next week for our House of Bishops actual meeting, for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. And I beg your prayers for them.

We've had to add an additional meeting in September because we've got a lot of business to take care of that you can't do it as fast as you normally would. And when you have those who are given to oratorical gifts and the need to be expressed, Zoom makes it a little bit more difficult to do so. To accommodate the oratorical gifts that are present when the bishops gather, we've added another meeting in September to continue our work. The focus this coming week will be, “Communion, Human and Divine: Holy Eucharist and Racial Reconciliation”. And we did that intentionally because these have been two concerns that the church and our bishops had been wrestling with and facing in a variety of ways.

And while the Eucharist and racial reconciliation may not seem like they're intimately connected, they both have to do with communion with God and with each other. They have to do with the same basic reality that God has given us. And there are other things that are on the agenda. We’ll be doing this meeting by Zoom.

Lastly, and because we probably won't be meeting before October, I would encourage you and encourage us as a church to be mindful, at least in the United States, of the conflation of difficult realities to deal with all at once. Which is to say, you've got the COVID-19 virus, that's a fact. You've got schools trying to figure out, do we open, do we not? Everybody is trying to figure out what is the right thing to do. So you've got that anxiety. You've got the politics of a face mask, which anyway... You've got that going on. You've got, how do we function in society in this context? And then you've got the reality of racism and white supremacy and re-imagining police. You've got all that going on. It's as though you've already got a fire and then you just take the gasoline of a presidential election and throw it on top of the fire. That's what the fall is going to look like. And we haven't even thought about the fact that we're about to enter into hurricane season.

You put all of that together and you have a cacophony of human chaos. And so I take seriously the power of prayer, and I know you do too. And I think we've got to ramp up our prayers during this season in particular, not just here in the United States, but around the world. The tensions and the divisions are real and they're deep. But we need not fall victim to them. And so we will need to be praying and we'll need to be speaking to make a Christian voice for the way of love and justice and compassion and human decency and adult behavior as values and norms by which we live as human beings, whether we are Christian or Republican or Democrat or any religion.

That may be, I'm beginning to see, that well may be one of the great evangelism challenges facing the church and at least the United States into coming months. It may well be a challenge to the basic values of this country, the very soul of this nation. I'm not talking about how people vote. That's not the point. I'm talking about how we live together. Dr. King really was right. We will either learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools. The choice is ours. Chaos or community. And I believe we must choose community and we must lift up our voice and help our countries and our cultures and our society choose God's beloved community, God's dream.

Thank you.

Nancy Cox Davidge
Public Affairs Officer