“All Saints Church is the place we come to speak the truth that will overcome the lie that we cannot make a difference.”
As a peace and justice church, opposing violence in all its forms has been part of the DNA of All Saints Church for generations. Our history is a tapestry of standing up and speaking out as a beacon of God’s love, justice and compassion in many dark moments in our nation’s history – from the deportation of Japanese Americans during World War II to the profiling of Muslim Americans since 9/11 and so many other times and places along the way.
In each and every one of those moments, All Saints has claimed its high calling to be a leadership voice in calling our nation to its better self as we continue the journey to making liberty and justice for all not just a pledge we make but a reality we live.
And in this Summer of 2016 we find ourselves in another one of those moments. We met to decide what the cover article for the August issue of Saints Alive should be in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando – recognizing that the interlocking issues of homophobia, Islamophobia and gun violence were all components of this national tragedy.
Since then there was Baton Rouge and the killing of Alton Sterling. And Minneapolis and the shooting of Philando Castile. And Altadena and the death of four year old Salvador Esparza in a drive by shooting. And the murder of five police officers in Dallas. And the ambush of three more in Baton Rouge. It seems that our national cycle of violence is spinning faster and faster as the web of interlocking issues expands: systemic racial inequality, lack of mental health care for veterans damaged by the wages of war and an immobilized Congress unable to address even the most fundamental gun safety legislation.
In the face of this onslaught of overwhelming challenges there is a very real temptation to believe the lie that we are powerless against so much systemic evil. And that is exactly why we pray “lead us not into temptation” every time we gather for worship.
Recognizing that we stand together at the crossroads of a critical moment in our nation’s history let us most importantly recognize first that we stand together. We stand with allies around this church and this country – indeed around the world – committed to interrupting the culture of violence with love, justice and compassion. We stand on the shoulders of those who have paved the way for us even as we work to make a way for those who will come after us.
In the days and weeks ahead we will continue to interrupt violence with peace in our prayers and our protests; our resolutions and our reflections; in our work and in our worship. We will continue to implement the Resolution on Racial Justice adopted by the Vestry earlier this year as we keep up the pressure to end gun violence and work to sustain our interfaith coalitions.
In the oft repeated words of William Sloane Coffin: “The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.” All Saints Church is the place we come to speak the truth that will overcome the lie that we cannot make a difference. Because we have. And we will.
Susan Russell is the Senior Associate for Communication at All Saints Church in Pasadena