Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark blogs at For Gates of Hope. His latest post is on his effort alongside fellow bishops to “convey a moral imperative for justice.” This group calls itself “Bishops Working for a Just World.”
Six of us gathered in Washington DC earlier this week to discuss how we can incorporate community organizing into our mission – and to do some lobbying on Capitol Hill. The staff from the Office of Government Relations, which promotes the policy agenda of the Episcopal Church as it is established through General Convention resolutions, briefed us on policy, set up meetings with Senators and members of Congress, and accompanied us through the halls of government.
While there were several directives from General Convention around a variety of issues, the focus of discussion in the offices — and demonstrations outside the offices, was about health care. The particulars of health care policy are complex and ever-changing, and are very difficult to follow; but the feelings of resistance to a reform of health care policy are raw and real – and are being released in increasing bursts of verbal violence. Those outbursts need to be challenged and curtailed; and norms of behavior need to be established or in some cases re-established – not just in town hall meetings or in joint sessions of Congress, but at the dinner table, in Vestry meetings, in the classroom, wherever people share communal life.