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Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

The Rev. Dr. Robert Rimbo shares regular thoughts and reflections about our life together.

A pastoral letter regarding racism

Dec 08, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:


"A voice says, ‘Cry out!’


And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’"


Isaiah, in chapter 40, wasn’t the last person to ask that question. It’s a haunting, even troubling question in these particular Advent days. It’s hard to cry out when you can’t breathe.  


The events of these last days have come especially close to home. The decision surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was one thing. I left the response to that sadness to our presiding bishop. But this decision, about the homicide of Eric Garner, was local, made by a grand jury on Staten Island, close to home, so close it is hard to breathe.   


What shall we cry?


"Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God," to be sure. But no matter whether we all agree on the question of justice in these cases, I think it is time for us to stand up, breathe deeply together, and stop simply talking about the racism that is profoundly present in our lives, our cities, our world, our church. It is time for us to lift up our voice with strength, as Isaiah says, but to do more than just talk about it. It is time to do more than simply cry.


This past Saturday, December 6, the Sent Committee of our strategic plan was in conversation with me about how that action in our synod might start. Next Tuesday, December 16, I will encourage our Synod Council to consider what next steps we should take. It is clear that the first step will be a Service for Justice the afternoon of January 17, 2015. The place is yet to be determined but we will announce that as soon as possible. This will be the first of a series of events designed to gather any and all members of our synod to take bold, new steps to address the horror of racism.


In the meantime, as your bishop and on behalf of our synod, I will participate in public forums to act and speak for racial justice. I invite you to let me know when such opportunities for public witness are scheduled. I realize that not everyone will agree with my stance; I believe I must act now.  


The closing verses of the first reading for the Second Sunday in Advent (Isaiah 40:1-11), encourage action: get up, lift up your voice, do not fear, say, see, feed, gather, carry, gently lead. That’s what we will do. I hope you will join me.


Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo


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