By Bishop Ann Svennungsen
Charlottesville: Did this really happen in America? In the 21st century? Does our social fabric really provide the context for children to grow into white supremacists? Are there no moral standards preventing such words and acts of hatred, bigotry, and violence?
Exactly one week before, in our very own synod, a bomb leveled the office of the Muslim Community Center in Bloomington, as the community was gathering for prayer.
Besides our laments, our cries of righteous anger, we wonder: What can I do? Our family gathered last night to ask that very question. The ideas were many, the hopes were courageous. But, at the end of evening, we knew there were no quick fixes. Even more, we recognized that the enormity of the problem could easily lead to inaction.
In my annual performance review, I asked these questions about the year ahead: Should the Minneapolis Area Synod and our congregations be more intentional and engaged in the issues facing our country and world? Weekly prayer services? Regular demonstrations about climate change and human justice? Greater investment in legislative advocacy?
PERHAPS, ANOTHER QUESTION is: What can the synod do to more actively support congregations and individuals in the weekly, daily, and hourly commitment to work for justice? What can we do to encourage and agitate for us to prioritize this work – to take the next step and then the next step after that in this long march toward justice and dignity for all God’s creation?
Besides our laments, our cries of righteous anger, we wonder: what can I do?
“Your Next Bold Step” is the theme for our Bishop’s Theological Conference for the rostered leaders of the synod. In addition to theological and practical learning, we will explore our next bold steps as individuals and make commitments appropriate to our contexts. Even more, the synod will facilitate follow-up groups for all who would like a coach or peer group to encourage and agitate us in this journey over the coming year.
There is no place for the racism and religious bigotry that was displayed so violently in our land these past two Saturdays. We stand against white supremacy – and seek the next bold step in our work for the reign of God where the evil of racism has no place.