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A Letter from Bishop Sean: Living Under the Shadow of the Lynching Tree

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The spring meeting of the House of Bishops concluded today, and I am grateful to have had a time of retreat and collegial reflection with so many colleagues and friends. At the close of our meeting, those of us gathered–137 bishops from across the Episcopal Church–unanimously approved a statement expressing our concern about the current political climate in the United States.

Extremism and violent rhetoric have become far too common in this election season. As people of faith, we must resist these forces of fear and division no matter what our party affiliations or political persuasions. In that spirit, I ask that this statement from the House of Bishops be read and distributed in every congregation in the Diocese of Bethlehem this Sunday. I also encourage you to share it on your congregation’s social media channels.

A Word to the Church
Holy Week 2016

On Good Friday the ruling political forces of the day tortured and executed an innocent man. They sacrificed the weak and the blameless to protect their own status and power. On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead, revealing not only their injustice but also unmasking the lie that might makes right.

In a country still living under the shadow of the lynching tree, we are troubled by the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric. Americans are turning against their neighbors, particularly those on the margins of society. They seek to secure their own safety and security at the expense of others. There is legitimate reason to fear where this rhetoric and the actions arising from it might take us.

In this moment, we resemble God’s children wandering in the wilderness. We, like they, are struggling to find our way. They turned from following God and worshiped a golden calf constructed from their own wealth. The current rhetoric is leading us to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege. We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and we must seek the common good above all else.

We call for prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail and we will not betray our true selves.

Please join me in praying for our leaders and our nation during this fractious time.

In Christ,
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The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe
Bishop Provisional

Find the House of Bishops statement online.