Archive for November, 2015

Dear Friends in Christ,

I don’t often post on EpistlesandEpiphanies, but I do enjoy reading Barbara’s monthly reflections here.

However, in the midst of all that is going on in the life of our city and the life of the world, I have felt acutely the last few days, the need to say something to our faith community about the events in North Minneapolis. Like so many of you, my heart has broken again and again at the news of violence and unrest in our twin city across the river, just as my heart breaks at the systems of oppression and hate that infect our world and affect even our own neighborhoods here in St. Paul.

As I sat down to write something to you last night, I received the following pastoral letter from our bishop, the Right Reverend Brian N. Prior, speaking to the same events and offering counsel, prayer, and opportunity for action. What he has written is powerful, challenging, and as good or better than anything I could write or say on the matter. Since Bishop Prior is the chief priest and pastor of our Diocese, the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, I will pass along his letter to you here and commend it for you to read, mark, and inwardly digest. I agree with our bishop that “As the church we can be complicit in supporting white supremacy or we can join with the Holy Spirit in actively interrupting the cycle of violence. We cannot choose the illusion of neutrality. To be ‘neutral’ is to support a status quo that ‘corrupts and destroys the creatures of God’ as we say in our Baptismal Covenant.”

We will be praying for justice, in North Minneapolis, and in our own neighborhood, this Sunday. Moreover, I invite you to join me, as the bishop has invited us to join with our brothers and sisters in Christ across the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and across faiths, to “look in our own communities for neighbors and neighborhoods that have been abandoned” and to seek to find ways we can engage as people of faith with others who are there on the margins and together with them seek justice and peace.

My prayers are with you and with all our community this Thanksgiving weekend, that we might choose to embrace one another and the world that God came to love and save.

For the full text of Bishop Prior’s letter, see below.

I’ll see you in church.






The Roman Empire turned its back upon tiny Bethlehem, and yet God showed up. Ignored by emperors and kings, Bethlehem was a speck on the map – if it even appeared at all. Yet Jesus entered the world in this place abandoned by empire and was Good News for those who lived there.

In the same vein, Minnesota turned its back upon North Minneapolis. White supremacy, economic disinvestment and government disinterest have been present in North Minneapolis for generations. We weep and mourn with the families of Jamar Clark and the five protesters who were shot – and we also acknowledge that this is not a new narrative. Still, as Christians we believe that Jesus is present: creating, transforming, and proclaiming Good News to a world that deeply needs it.

As you reflect upon the events of the past eight days since the shooting of Jamar Clark, we invite you to deeply consider engaging with the abandoned places of empire, at the margins of society. For some of us this might mean physically moving and buying one of the vacant properties in North Minneapolis. For others, this might mean finding ways to intentionally spend time, talent, and treasure in that neighborhood. Yet others might look in our own communities for neighbors and neighborhoods that have been abandoned, and add prayers for justice in North Minneapolis to our prayers.

As the church we can be complicit in supporting white supremacy or we can join with the Holy Spirit in actively interrupting the cycle of violence. We cannot choose the illusion of neutrality. To be “neutral” is to support a status quo that “corrupts and destroys the creatures of God” as we say in our Baptismal Covenant.

Below, there is a prayer that you can use. If your faith community plans to gather or participate in events responding to this situation, we invite you to let us know so that we can communicate your event. If you don’t know what to do, please contact Missioner for Community Engagement Rachel Babbitt, Rachel.B@episcopalmn.org.

Prayer in Response to Events in North Minneapolis

Gracious God, our times are in your hands.
You gave hope to our ancestors when they thought they were lost.
Your son Jesus taught us how to live with compassion and integrity in a time of great division and fear. 

We pray for Jamar Clark, his family, and those protesters who were shot; for the police officers involved and their families; for those who incite violence; for the Minneapolis mayor and police unions; for the leaders of Black Lives Matter, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, and all those affected by the events of recent days, especially residents of North Minneapolis and abandoned neighborhoods anywhere in our state. 

Give us a holy intolerance for oppression – whether we are the oppressed or the oppressor.

Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts to replace our fear of each other with a longing for connection and trust.

Compel us to see your image in the Other, in our families, neighborhoods, houses of faith, workplaces, and civic conversations.

Give us the will to commit to reconciliation through relationship building and reinvestment in our neighborhoods.

Give us the guiding star of your Holy Spirit as we seek to heal our community. 

In the name of Jesus, who broke bread with sinners and saints, friends and enemies, and spoke words of Good News into their hearts, and ours. Amen.


The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior
IX Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Happy New Year

As I sit at the computer writing, I find out that another friend died this week, a formidable woman who was a pioneer in working with computers and becoming the first female vice president at Honeywell. And I have been walking with another friend as she keeps vigil with her mother who has chosen to die because life no longer holds much for her. Loss is rampant along with the looming holidays. And the specter of “busy-ness.”

And then there is Paris and North Minneapolis.

This coming Sunday is the last of the church year, hence the n New Year’s greeting. It’s called “Sunday of Doom” (?) in the Swedish Evangelical Church, “Stirrup Sunday” (as in stirring up the Christmas pudding that has to set for several weeks), and “Christ the King Sunday”.I’m going with the last one in this week’s sermon, although it’s taken me a good while to sort out why this “feast day” is still on our calendar in a day when kings are pretty irrelevant.

This is a time to come to church. To hear the stories that have sustained people for thousands of years, to sing and pray in community with others who have such similar wants and fears, to break bread that promises strength for the journey. The Eucharist is, as writer Mark Osler reminds us, the last meal of a condemned man, and as such has particular poignancy for the present struggles. Church can be a place to shed your tears and give thanks for your joy. It’s a time-out from the rest of it.

See you there.


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