Bishops, Clergy, Lay March to Fight 'Unholy Trinity'

Bishops, Clergy, Lay March to Fight 'Unholy Trinity'

The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, right, the Rev. Drew Kadel, St. James', Lincoln, and Deacon Marcia Tyriver, St. Patrick's, Kenwood, traveled to Chicago last week, to join more than 120 laypeople and clergy gathered April 20-22 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago for the conference: Unholy Trinity: the Intersection of Racism, Poverty and Gun Violence.

"It was an honor for me to be one of about 20 bishops leading this procession through the streets of Chicago," Beisner said. "Our Church must stand against the 'unholy trinity' of racism, poverty, and gun violence that afflict our nation. Anything that devalues the life of another human being is a form of violence.

"The CDC tells us that gun violence in the U.S. kills at the rate of more that 90 persons each day; even more die of other causes related to poverty and addiction. Hopelessness kills. We have been given the Gospel of the risen Christ, the power of Easter to transform lives, and the world needs to hear that Gospel from us more clearly and directly.

"The violence that infects our society must be rooted out, in the Name of Jesus; structural, systemic, and personal racism must be rooted out, because Jesus Christ is Lord, and racial reconciliation is a Gospel imperative."

The three days of the Bishops United Against Gun Violence conference included bible study, worship, workshops and speakers, including the Rev. Scott Russell, who was a campus minister to students at Virginia Tech 10 years ago, when a gunman opened fire killing 28 fellow students, four professors and himself; the Rev. Carol Reese, a hospital chaplain who handles the crisis of faith faced by teenagers injured by gunfire; the Rev. Julian DeShazier, pastor of University Church Chicago who is also the rap artist J. Kwest; Natalie Moore, the Chicago Southside reporter for WBEZ and NPR; and Professor Kelly Brown Douglas, the well-known womanist theologian and chair of the religion department at Goucher College.

Common themes emerged in the presentations and workshops: gun violence is driven by fear and despair, and those fears emerge primarily from the failure to experience members of other communities fully as human. Brown Douglas said, "God's resurrection of Jesus is nonviolent and life-affirming. God does not use the master's tools of violence, the only way to defeat violent power is with non-violent means."

DeShazier encouraged the churches to "Stop doing things for people. Stop doing things to people and to start doing things WITH people. Are we willing to be led by the communities we serve?"The culmination of the conference was a public liturgy and march to Hyde Park. 

The service ended with a homily by the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, bishop-elect of Indianapolis, on this text from Romans: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

- The Rev. Drew Kadel and Episcopal News Service contributed to this report.

© 2013 The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

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