THEO’S CAFE YOUNG ADULT DINNER
AT PROCTER HOUSE, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
FROM THE BISHOP:
Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…Ephesians 6:10-12
There is great evil in our world and there is great sin. Of course, we all sin and we all have need of repentance. Lent reminds us of this. It is important that we engage in this spiritual work. It takes time, prayer and discipline.
Beyond our individual sinfulness there are sin and injustices that transcend us, infecting our society and institutions with a demonic spirit that is capable of great harm. We are seeing that now on many fronts: the violence of our culture, especially as a result of gun violence; the evil of racism that has resulted in a vicious school to prison pipeline as well as mass incarceration. This has birthed a “New Jim Crow,” which has wreaked havoc on the African-American community in particular. The phrase comes from the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (New York: The New Press, 2010).
Prejudice and bigotry have left so-called Dreamers – those who were brought to this country by parents who entered the country without proper documentation – in a precarious, uncertain position in our culture. They have become unwitting pawns in a political chess match that has no concern for their human being. Our political institutions are failing us. They are broken and dysfunctional. They are sinful. What are we to do?
The late Walter Wink, an American biblical scholar and theologian, author of several important books, including Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in and Age of Domination understood this kind of evil and sin and what was needed to resist it.
He once wrote:
Social entities can be changed by strategies that address the social-spiritual nature of institutions. Since we are not out to destroy people but to change the systems that hold even their beneficiaries in thrall, we must take as our spiritual weapons the “whole armor of God,” the nonviolent armament of which Ephesians so eloquently speaks: truth, justice, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and above all, prayer (Eph 6:10-20). That is, the church’s peculiar calling is to discern and engage both the structure and the spirituality of oppressive institutions…(Augsburg Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1992, Kindle Edition, location 1274)
Following last week’s shooting at Margery Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida in which 17 were killed, most of them teenagers, by a young man wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, I sympathized with those who were fed up with people expressing “thoughts and prayers,” but not taking action. Our country has a gun disease. It is sick. I am not anti-gun and I am not anti-hunting. I do, however, agree with the vast majority of Americans who recognize that easy access to guns in our society is a major problem and who are calling for common-sense gun laws.
It is time to pray, to repent and to take action.
First we pray and repent.
On Wednesday, March 14, on the one month observance of the Parkland Mass Shooting, and in response to it as well as to the untold number of shootings that occur on our streets every day, killing young people and children in an inexcusable and vicious cycle of violence, I will engage in A Day of Lamentation – a 12 hour period of prayer and fasting at Trinity Cathedral. This will last from 6:30 AM until 6:30 PM. There will be prayers, hymns, readings from scripture, silence, a healing Eucharist, and Stations of the Cross. The day will end with a simple soup supper with the Cathedral Community. I invite all in the Diocese of New Jersey to join me for all or any part of that day. Similar observances are being called for by member bishops of Bishops United Against Gun Violence across the country.
Then we act.
On Wednesday, March 24, along with other bishops who are part of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, I will participate in the March for Our Lives Rally being led by the students of Margery Stoneman Douglas High School and other students who are taking to the streets to demand that their safety be a priority in this country. Our intention as bishops is to stand in solidarity and anguish with these students and their many supporters and to demand that Congress and the President of the United States act to implement what the vast majority of Americans want: common sense gun laws. I invite any clergy and laity in the Diocese of New Jersey to join me.
LEAMNJ (Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry New Jersey) is organizing buses to bring interested persons to the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington (see the poster inserted to the left). For those who are unable to travel to Washington, other local March for Our Lives events will be taking place including in Philadelphia and New York.
Even as I engage in these, I am frustrated by the callous inaction of our government and their treatment of Dreamers. If a Clean Dream Act is not passed by March 6th, more than 1 million persons face the real possibility of being deported without further warning.
I have been attempting to speak to New Jersey members of Congress to urge them to act. I commit myself to standing with Dreamers in the Diocese of New Jersey, offering them sanctuary in those of our churches who are ready to do this, and to doing anything else I can to stop this immoral action by our government.
The time has come to put on the whole armor of God…to pray, repent and to act.
Blessings and peace,
Bishop’s Schedule Highlights
Friday, February 23, 2018:
Saturday, February 24, 2018:
10:30 a.m. Board of Consultation
Sunday, February 25, 2018:
9:30 a.m. Visitation: Trinity Church, Swedesboro
Monday, February 26, 2018:
Tuesday, February 27, 2018:
7:00 p.m. Mission, Budget and Structure Task Force meeting
Wednesday, February 28, 2018:
7:00 p.m. Resources and Revenues Task Force meeting
Thursday, March 1, 2018:
Travel to Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill
Friday-Saturday, March 2-3, 2018:
Diocesan Convention – Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill
Upcoming Diocesan Events
Diocesan Calendar through late winter 2018..
Save the Date!
NEW JERSEY COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Opioids: The Next Step
Diocesan Convention – Save the Date!
The 234th Convention of the Diocese of New Jersey will take place on March 2-3, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.
PART-TIME ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT POSITION
Send a resume to The Rev. J. Connor Haynes by email or mail to 145 West Broad Street, Burlington, NJ 08016.
ABOUT ELECTRONIC GIVING
St. Francis, Dunellen, is exploring setting up an electronic giving system If your congregation is using such a system, please contact them with the following: Name and contact info of the service you use, fees/costs involved for parish and/or donor, rough percentage of households that use this option, pros and cons, anything else we should know.
SEEKING LEVAS II
Proclaiming Christ in the Garden State
We are the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement in the Southern 2/3 of New Jersey.