Dear St. James friends and family,

We are gearing up for the fall at St. James in a new way. In many respects, we live in a new normal. Technology has become our friend and the 21st century vehicle that keeps us connected and in community. Necessity has motivated us to learn and open our hearts and minds to new possibilities of doing church!

Our Sunday morning worship service and our programs will most likely ebb and flow between live and virtual, in sync with the pandemic. Life is not the same as before, but I remain optimistic that science is progressing rapidly, and help is on the way.

I know I have asked you to do many things before that required commitment and stretched your comfort zones. From homelessness to climate change, we have a greater understanding of significant issues that face us all, and we are better equipped to tackle those challenges on a much deeper level.

 

Our next topic we are about to delve into is the subject of diversity, ethnicity, and faith, within the context of our country of immigrants. Over the past several months, I have researched, read several books, and watched multiple videos, films, and documentaries on the subject. I have also discussed many of these options with several of you along the way. I recently finished reading the book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, by Colin Woodard, that had a profound impact on me with many epiphany-moments along the way.  

The book shaped my thoughts for the fall program, along with a 10-part film-based dialogue series called “Sacred Ground,” methodically created by our national Episcopal Church. (See an Episcopal News Service article on this important series here.) Both the book and the series helped me reach a much deeper understanding of the roots of our country, our multi-ethnicity and how it has shaped our society today, our political backgrounds and beliefs, our perspectives and to some degree, how it has been the genesis of our polarization in society today.

Please be assured: “American Nations and Sacred Ground” is not a program that accuses you of racism. We have so many good people in our congregation that are unabashedly willing to help others and accept everyone for who they are with total respect. This is program is for us to further understand what the historical context and the cultural impact of the multicultural people we all experience today in our country from our past to our present. 

It is not a program split along party lines, nor is it just about blacks in America. “American Nations and Sacred Ground” covers the plight of Native Americans, Latinx Americans, the immigration patterns of Asian Pacific Americans, Indian Americans, and many others. It is a historical, factual account of the color of America.

And I am asking each and every one of you to make the time for this very important program and to read the book and watch the films. I guarantee they will transform us more into the image of Christ as we open our hearts to this very sacred ground. 

I am also asking you to invite your friends, family, neighbors and our community to join us on this journey as well. I am convinced that it will help lead all of us to a greater understanding and respect for each other as we discuss and interact throughout the program.

Yes, it will require a commitment of your time, your energy, and your attention. It will be time well spent as an investment by you that will provide growth, grace and understanding.

So, grab your popcorn! Our first in-person meeting will be on Sunday, Sept. 27th, at 8:45 a.m. in the Great Hall, before our Sunday service. Our first Zoom meeting will be on Wednesday, Sept. 30th, at 7 p.m.

Colin Woodard will be with us to discuss his book, American Nations, on Wednesday, Nov. 18th, at 7 p.m., on Zoom. 

Peace,

© 2020 St. James Episcopal Church, Newport Beach, CA

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