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Healers standing in the breach: Take action on systemic racism

May 2020 · Ministry News

A message from The Very Rev. Robert N. Smith, dean, president and CEO of Saint Francis Ministries.

Overt racism against African Americans continues to be revealed in the United States. I am deeply concerned, as I pray you are. We cannot deny there are injustices heaped upon members of our communities who are in greater danger than other members. Such vulnerability should in no way be interpreted as weakness.

Some of the most vulnerable are the strongest. For example, the greatest influences in my life, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, all fought for justice and saw racism for the evil it is…others like Carlos Scott, who died too young in prison, Fred Pearson, who was denied the opportunity to play professional sports because he was black, Willie Lawson, who marched with Dr. King, and the living saint, Desmond Tutu, instill a strength that when we are in relationship with one another, we can have honest conversations about the sin of racism and the destructive power it has in our personal lives and our common life together.

At Saint Francis we also benefit from such strength and in turn are called upon to be healers standing in the breach. Found at our roots is a commitment to justice. So, what can you do?

If you are a person of faith, I ask that you pray that the scourge of racism will be cleansed from our human hearts and the economic, educational, public policy, and political systems in which we know it exists. If you are civically minded, I encourage you to express your voice in peaceful actions, constructive community engagement, and civil discourse, and I encourage you to listen to voices raised in pain – pain born from 400 years of systemic oppression.

Many of us proclaim that we are created in God’s image. As many of you have heard me say, I believe that this image is a reflection of perfect love. As long as we allow racism to be normalized, as long as we allow death, violence, and destruction to rest unequally upon communities of color, then we defile and disrespect the God in whose image we are made. Until we embrace love, we waste God’s greatest creation.

I leave you with words that guide me:

            I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

May God bless you, always –

Fr. Bobby

Si usted es una persona de fe, le pido orar que el azote del racismo sea expulsado de nuestros corazones humanos y de las políticas económicas, educacionales, públicas, y los sistemas políticos en que sabemos que existe el racismo. Si es una persona activa en la vida pública cívica, le animo a expresar su voz en acciones pacíficas, a participación comunitaria constructiva, y el discurso cívico, y le animo a escuchar también las voces levantadas por el dolor – un dolor producido por 400 años de opresión sistémica.

Muchos de nosotros proclamamos que somos creados a la imagen de Dios. Y muchos de ustedes me han escuchado decir que yo creo que esta imagen es una reflexión del amor perfecto. A la medida que permitamos que se normalice el racismo y que la muerte, la violencia, y la destrucción les afecten de manera desigual a las comunidades de color, es la misma medida en que contaminemos e irrespetemos el Dios en la imagen del cual somos hechos. Hasta que abracemos el amor, vamos a valorar la creación más grande de Dios.

Les dejo con unas palabras que me guían:

            “He decidido quedarme con el amor. El odio es una carga demasiado grande.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Que Dios siempre, les bendiga –

Padre Bobby