[ACNS] The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has described racism as a “demon” and said that “sacred conversations may help the demon of racism to lose some its power.”
Bishop Curry made his remarks in a video released by Trinity Wall Street in New York ahead of its “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice” conference which is taking place from 21 to 23 January.
“Problems and dilemmas don't go away by ignoring them and pretending they are not there,” Bishop Curry says. “They get engaged by facing them squarely and honestly and then learning from them and then turning and moving in a new direction.
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be undone; but faced with courage, need not be lived again. That is what we are doing by engaging racism. That’s what we're doing by listening with new ears, speaking with new lips. I think, by having the courage to have sacred conversations about things we sometimes don’t want to talk about. But sometimes – as in the Bible – when the demon is named it loses its power and we gain mastery over it.
“Sacred conversations may help the demon of racism to lose some of its power and to set the children of God free.”
The conference by Trinity Wall Street is set amid a backdrop of recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri; Staten Island, New York, and Charleston, South Carolina, which have caused “many across the United States to question whether our nation can ever achieve racial equality within our institutions and social interactions,” the Church said.
“Many of us avoid conversations about race because they’re difficult, uncomfortable, or could risk being perceived as prejudiced. The dialogues at [the conference] will be learning opportunities: chances to talk skilfully about charged issues with people who might have differing perspectives, with less apprehension.
“These life-giving conversations will teach about the racial issues of our time, including structural racism, mass incarceration, and policy change.”
The Rector of Trinity Wall Street, the Revd Dr William Lupfer, said that “As a society, we cannot stay silent and tacitly accept the status quo of systemic racism that supports inequalities, creates suffering, denies human dignity and is too often invisible to its beneficiaries.
“Participants at the 2016 Trinity Institute will have the chance to speak frankly about underpinnings of discrimination and develop the skills to create change within troubled systems.”
Trinity Wall Street has a significant social action programme, of which the Trinity Institute is a part. It is an annual conference, now in its 45th year, that equips clergy and lay people for “imaginative and catalytic leadership.”
This year’s presenters include leading activists, scholars, authors, artists and experts on racial inequality, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, actress and author Anna Deavere Smith, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who will deliver a sermon on 21 January.
The conference will be held at Trinity Church in Wall Street, New York City and is being video-linked in a number of partner sites in the US and around the world.
- More information is available here