Election statement: Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith

Posted Nov 9, 2016

[Episcopal Diocese of Newark] Bishop Mark Beckwith has posted the following reflection on his blog.

The outcome was unexpected. And for me, unwanted. I anticipated that a lot of people would feel hurt, confused and angry on November 9, but I didn’t figure I would be one of them.

That said, beneath all the swirling feelings, I feel called – in two distinct but related ways.

First, I feel the call to be prophetic. Over the past months during the presidential campaign, veiled threats have been made to African Americans, open threats to Muslims, sexist references to women, denial of civil rights to transgendered people, verbal eviction notices issued to Hispanics, gun access to almost anyone and on and on and on. It is a time-worn practice of “Othering,” which inevitably generates fear and resentment. Jesus wouldn’t stand for it, and neither should we. It is said by some that the accusations and insinuations were just campaign hype, but the passion with which they were made – and the exhilaration with which they were often received, suggest otherwise. To be prophetic is to expose” othering,” to stand up with and for those being “othered” – and, to paraphrase a claim made in an old hymn, “In Christ there is no East or West” – there is no othering, because we are one in Christ.

The second call is to be pastoral. For generations, if not for centuries, the “othered” groups have not been heard, but instead have been marginalized, forgotten or ignored. In recent decades, a relatively new group of Americans have had the disorienting and disturbing experience of feeling pushed from the center of American life into the shadows. They have not been adequately heard, if they have been heard at all. The pastoral call is to listen. To listen – not with the intent of countering with an argument, but to hear the pain and confusion. Listening builds relationships. Listening is form of reconciliation.

It turns out that listening is a foundation practice in our diocese as we join God in shaping our future.

Being prophetic and pastoral. At the same time. And involving everyone – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Jesus has had the corner on the prophetic/pastoral market. Let’s join him.