Bishop Beisner's Freedom Ride Prayer

Bishop Beisner's Freedom Ride Prayer

by the Rt. Rev. Barry L. Beisner, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

We have just finished our second full day in North Carolina. We ended the day with worship that included an extended time for intercessions, including the reading of prayers each of us wrote out of our personal sense of learning, challenge and call in the experience of this day. My own prayer was one of gratitude for those who have fought this fight: God help us to honor their witness. May we be faithful in our own day of decision, and good servants to those who will follow after us.

It was a day of powerful experiences, including a visit to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro. The Museum is built over and around the site of the F. W. Woolworth’s, where the first of many anti-segregation sit-ins to erupt all over the South was held on Feb 1, 1960. I was especially blessed to go through the Museum in the company of one of the four original protesters Joseph McNeill, who with his fellow college freshmen had decided that the time to act for justice had come.

I won't try to tell the story here, but we were privileged to hear extensively from McNeill (who is also a retired Air Force Major General), along with other key leaders from the region, including a former mayor of Greensboro, Raleigh's Chief of Police and a group of civil rights activists from multiple organizations (see photo above). Between them, they issued an eloquent challenge to our pilgrims to continue the struggle, with the Baptismal affirmation of human dignity at the core and with faith that overcomes fear.

Tonight we had a powerful performance of a one-man play based on the book Blood Done Signed My Name. Again, a deeply moving challenge. (Pictured at left, Freedom ride pilgrims learn more about the struggles depicted in the book from Mike Wiley's one-man production and workshop.)

Together, with our remarkable group of young pilgrims (including the larger group from across the country and world, of which we are now fully a part), I feel that I have been given a very great opportunity. I expect that God will use this experience as a base for future action in our lives and communities. I look forward to discerning that call with you.

Grace and peace,

+Barry

 

 

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