Church’s activism at work during Holy Week

A scan of the newswires shows a busy last couple of days for The Episcopal Church in the world of activism.

… About 50 Episcopalians from Los Angeles and San Diego took a daylong trip to the Mexican border to show support and solidarity with immigrants living near the border, the Orange County Register reports.

“It’s not what you’re used to seeing when you are driving down the 5,” said the Rev. Tom Callard, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Highland Park. He was among about 50 Episcopalians who gathered at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in San Clemente for a “way of the cross” service before heading to Chula Vista for the next prayer session in a series.

“We are all pilgrims,” the Rev. Patrick Crerar, rector at St. Clement’s, told a bilingual gathering outside the church. “We support unity in families, not division. It is the desire of God, it is the desire of the church and it is the desire of all of us that families be brought back together. So we join in this pilgrimage to seek God’s will, to seek God’s justice in our immigration laws and to seek greater unities between families divided by the wall.”

Next to Crerar was the 6-foot-tall Jesus statue, known as “El Salvador del Mundo,” or Savior of the World. The representation was built in El Salvador about 1995 and transported to Los Angeles aboard a truck, crossing borders into Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, said the Rev. Liz Muñoz, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, where the statue is housed.

The Rev. Beth Kelly reflects on this action for Daily Episcopalian.

… Hundreds of Episcopalians on Monday marched in Chicago, joining with others in calling for an end to city violence in what was called a March Against Murder, NBC Chicago reports.

From the Sun-Times:

The group — with various backgrounds — kicked off Holy Week with the march of more than four miles.

About 600 people walked from the cathedral to Daley Plaza, to Old St. Pat’s Church and finally to Stroger.

“It will take sustained action. This killing is an epidemic . . . Let’s join together to put an end to the killing. It will take all of us,” said Rev. Jeffrey Lee, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago at Daley Plaza, NBC5 reported.

Photos of the event from the Chicago Tribune, as well as this video from a CBS affiliate are available:

Prayers for the ending of violence during the entire march played a part, an ABC affiliate adds.

The march continued to Old St. Pat’s Church in the West Loop for more prayers. Then it was on to the site of the old Cook County hospital, where so many of the young lives participants prayed for have been lost. Top local government officials joined the religious leaders there.

Those in the crowd prayed they would make a difference.

“I hope that people would just get the message that violence isn’t the answer,” said Walter Grant. “There are other ways of solving problems.”

Many of the marchers carried signs that read ‘632 children killed in Chicago in the last four years.’ But they said just in the few weeks since they printed those signs eight more have died from street violence. They hoped the march is just the start of a bigger movement to bring an end to the violence.

… In Connecticut, bishops marched (see video) from Christ Church Cathedral to the Capitol, …

where Connecticut legislators are considering a bill this session to end the death penalty for future cases and replace it with life in prison.

Religious leaders say they will enact the Stations of the Cross during the march, with prayers and meditations on the abolition of the death penalty offered at each station. The stations depict the lead-up to Jesus’ crucifixion.

… The bishop of Central Florida, The Rt. Rev. Gregory Brewer, marched for justice in the Trayvon Martin case two days after Brewer’s consecration, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

He was the only white clergyman to address the Sanford City Commission inside the Civic Center that evening, urging city leaders to address the concerns of the black community.

“Part of what I’m trying to do is chart a course of what my role is as bishop in Central Florida. I don’t want to hide out with my local churches. My role is to be involved in the life of my community as a Christian presence,” said Brewer, 60, who remembers Klan marches growing up in Richmond, Va.


Brewer comes from the evangelical tradition of the Episcopal Church that applied spiritual conviction to social activism, dating back to opposition to slavery and exploitation of child labor, said the Rev. Rory Harris, who has known him for 14 years.

… Bishops of the Diocese of New York have spoken out on the subjects of Occupy Wall Street, Trayvon Martin, and the “Stop & Frisk” policy.

At the six month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we repeat our support for the principles of Occupy, and our conviction that the issues and challenges raised by this movement are in our opinion among the most important of our day. At our convention in January the Diocese of New York affirmed our commitment to these principles, and to the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience as a means of putting the legitimate concerns of people of conscience before the public eye and before the powers of civil government.

We understand that it is inevitable that where civil disobedience breaks law it will provoke a response by police and governmental leaders. That is not only inevitable, but is of the very fabric of civil disobedience. On March 17, there were demonstrations at Zuccotti Park to mark the anniversary of Occupy, and those demonstrations were cleared by the police. Allegations of excessive force by the police have been made. We remind all persons, and every elected official, and all officers of the New York City police, that a guaranteed recourse of people in a democracy to give voice to legitimate grievance is public demonstration. We ask the forbearance of elected officials. But when arrests are made, we call on every public official and officer of the law to exercise judgment and restraint, to honor the dignity of those they place in custody, and to remain committed to their safety and protection. The use of excessive force by police in any circumstance is destructive of the common life on which we all depend and the trust we must have in our institutions and one another, and when excessive force is used to silence the political voice it is destructive of democracy itself.

We also write this at a time when lawmakers of this state are testifying in Albany to their own experiences and those of their constituents of the unfair, humiliating, and potentially dangerous practice known as Stop and Frisk. This is also written against the backdrop of the heartbreaking killing of Trayvon Martin by a private citizen operating under the protection of Florida’s wildly ill-conceived Stand Your Ground law. Laws and law enforcement practices which dehumanize, demean and debase; which deny and take life; and which are inherently racist, are ruinous to the freedom in which God intends us to live and contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church calls us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to respect the dignity of every human being. We commend these virtues, and the temperance, charity and nonviolence which flow from them, to the wider community and its government as well. We call on the elected officials of the City of New York to re-examine the laws and practices by which the officials our city protect its citizens and visitors, to end the biased and prejudicial practices of Stop and Frisk, and to commit to restraint, fairness and transparency in every encounter with the people of New York.


The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk

Bishop of New York


The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche

Bishop Coadjutor of New York


The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith

Bishop Assisting in the Diocese of New York

Whew! And, keep it up!

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