FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING
Since, then, we have such a hope [through Christ Jesus] we act with great boldness… (2 Corinthians 2:13)
Because we are saved, called and empowered by God who is FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING, we are free to be and do likewise!
This was my Report to the Virginia Synod Council. It would have been the basis for my report to the Annual Synod Assembly, though I would have started my deep appreciation for all the amazing colleagues I have on our Synod Staff and among the Rostered and Lay leaders in our remarkable Synod. I’d like to share it with you, dear Synod, for your prayerful consideration:
We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time nearly 50,000 Virginians have been confirmed to have the virus and nearly 1500 of those have died in the past 100 days. Most of our congregations have been waiting to gather again in-person since mid-March and all of us are living and working in ways that are very different and limiting. We are all likely tired, concerned and uncertain.
Meanwhile the news and graphic videos of the murders of several Black Americans of African descent, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have unleashed generations of compounded anger, grief, fear, and frustration spilling out into the streets of our county’s cities and towns, including our own Synod.
The clear evidence of systemic and personal racism in both major crises are forcing those of us who occupy positions of privilege and power to confess our collusion and complicity and seek a more honest and just way forward. We need to confess and dismantle our racism, sexism, and gender/sexuality bias.
I want to report to you, cherished partners in ministry, that I see great opportunity in the midst of our confusion and fatigue. When we are disoriented we have no choice but to pause and reorient or foolishly stumble along without direction. This is an amazing opportunity to both pause and reorient.
The way forward is not to attempt to return to where we were most comfortable. That place does not truly exist. It is a deceptive illusion. No, instead the future is unfolding before our eyes. It will require we continue to depend more deeply on one another, invest in technology and creativity to stay connected and reach out more effectively. There are many examples of how even the smallest congregations in our Synod have been delighted by the growth and vitality experienced in midst of this difficult time.
The way forward will require difficult and repetitive conversation and deep prayerful confession for many of us. We will need to carefully and respectfully build authentic relationships with people very different and yet amazingly alike – all beloved children of God. I pray we will not squander or ignore the opportunities before us to move toward our Lord’s gospel call to a truly welcoming, inclusive church willing to stand up, speak out, and act clearly for peace through justice and genuine equity for all.
We will face difficult decisions in the months and years ahead. But, I firmly believe this is exactly where the Holy Spirit is leading us – to BE the Church… In this place… At this time… For the sake of the world!
As always, we are not powerless or alone. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and accompanied by God. There has seldom been a better time to follow our Risen Lord in the Pentecost way of the Holy Trinity…
FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING! May it be so. I keep you in my prayers daily, dear Synod!
—Bishop Bob Humphrey