Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

A message from Bishop Stephen Lane

A message from Bishop Stephen Lane 

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I’m speaking to you a day or so before I leave for the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. And I’m speaking to you after another very violent Fourth of July weekend in our country with mass shootings in Highland Park, IL, and Rochester, NY, among others. The triennial meeting of our church is a year late and is greatly constrained by Covid-19 protocols. We’re meeting for just four days and must comply with strict policies regarding vaccination, masking and social distancing. We need three forms of identification just to get into the Convention Center.

I think we’ll manage. I anticipate that despite the constraints, our General Convention will elect church leaders, set a budget, adopt priorities and address the issues of the day. I believe our church will continue to stand for peace and non-violence, for care of creation, for justice for the poor and the weak, and will continue to uphold the rights of women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and other oppressed groups. I’m sure we’ll also talk about church matters, about liturgy and baptism, among other things. I’m hoping to make some video reports from the General Convention, but the days are long, and any report will be crafted late in the evening. We’ll see how that goes.

What’s really on my mind today is the swelling violence across our country that looms over all of us as we venture out for work, shopping, and for recreation.  It’s beginning to feel as though no place is safe in any community. Several of you have spoken with me about this, and about your frustration at the slowness of our leaders in addressing it. You want to know what we can do.

I think there are at least two things we can do. The first is not to participate in the violence. Loving our neighbor means refusing to treat our neighbor with scorn or disrespect. It doesn’t mean liking our neighbor or agreeing with our neighbor or surrendering our own point of view, but it does mean seeing our neighbor as created in the image of God just as we are. Love and respect are the first steps in rebuilding relationships and reaching across the many divides that separate us. As Martin Luther King reminded us, only love can overcome hate, only light can overcome darkness.

The second thing we can do is pray, not just seeking solace and comfort, but seeking from God, God’s will for our lives. True prayer issues in action, and your prayer might just reveal to you a call to address the violence in our homes and neighborhoods. It might just stir something new in you that can make a difference.

I look forward to reporting to you from the Convention. Please keep your deputation in your prayers as we try to contribute to the wisdom of the church gathered together in the Spirit of God.