Indianapolis: A word from the bishop

Posted Aug 14, 2017

[Episcoapl Diocese of Indianapolis] Dear Ones,

In days like these I can’t help but think of my grandparents. My paternal grandfather grew up on the Shinnecock Indian reservation—a place awash with poverty surrounded by a sea of wealth in the Hamptons of Long Island—land they once owned. My paternal grandmother and maternal grandparents hailed from the Jim Crow south and eventually made their way north in one of the urban migrations to New York City. None of them lived to see the election of a black U.S. president. The hatred and violence of this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA was all too familiar to them. The stories of run-ins my paternal grandparents had with the KKK were told in hushed tones so that the children would not hear—but we did. And there were places my Grandma Anne, would not visit because of those incidents. Grandma Anne was tougher than nails—ask anyone who knew her—but fear of the Klan would keep her from visiting me when I lived outside of Binghamton, NY. I would tell her, my faith in God as revealed in Jesus Christ compelled me not to fear. It is perhaps both irony and destiny that as bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, I now visit churches in places where confederate flags fly on the houses next door. I wonder all the time what Grandma Anne would make of it.

All over our diocese, wherever the Episcopal Church is present, we offer sanctuaries of hope and communities of transformation where we learn over and over again how to die and rise again with Jesus Christ. This is not a dress rehearsal: the death and resurrection of Jesus, the triumph of love and light over evil and death is constant and we must be vigilant in naming both the evil and the love that defeats it. The events in Charlottesville this weekend, and the demonstrations of white supremacist hatred known all too well in Indiana and every corner of these United States show us evil without nuance. So let us be even more clear about our witness of love. Let our prayers be met in equal measure by our actions to dismantle systems of injustice and oppression that dehumanize and deny dignity to God’s beloved. This is what being “beacons of Jesus Christ for Central and Southern Indiana and the world” looks like. This diocese has been about this work for a long time, we must keep at it. As your bishop, I join you, encourage you, and support you in being relentless for the love of Jesus.

Be well, dear ones. May you know the love of God deeply that you may be fearless in sharing that love with the world.

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows