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A Pastoral Letter about Charlottesville and An Opportunity to Respond

August 18, 2017

Beloved Family of God in the Upper Midwest Diocese:

Thank you for your prayers and support as my family took time for vacation (in the forests and lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin) and study focus in July and early August.  The Provincial Assembly was even stronger than I had hoped, but it was also even busier than I had anticipated, so I was thankful for family time and rest.

As is my usual discipline, I was offline as much as possible, so I did not learn of the Charlottesville tragedy until my return to Church of the Resurrection last Sunday morning. I am so thankful for our Archbishop’s pastoral letter that stated—unequivocally—that “racism is contrary to the Gospel and has no place in the Church.”  It is right and good that any violence be denounced, and especially the violence of white supremacy. But we must go beyond right and holy denouncements to renewed determination.

I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Michael Wright to hear how he and his people at True Freedom (an African-American church in Oak Park, IL that is in an intentional ministry partnership with our diocese) are processing Charlottesville. The first thing that Pastor Michael spoke of was revival—the great need for revival. May this be our determination as a diocese in light of not only Charlottesville, but also of the evils of racial injustice, violence, and the activity of the Kingdom of Darkness throughout our country. Jesus has given our diocese a mission: to plant a Revival of Word and Sacrament Infused by the Holy Spirit. This mission is the way forward as we seek to minister the fullness of the Gospel into every aspect of our culture. And let me be clear: that is precisely what we are seeking to do.

Toward that end, I want to invite those of us in Chicagoland to be a part of a ministry initiated by Pastor Michael and Canon William Beasley: they are calling our diocese to form multiple teams of about five people each to visit different African-American churches throughout the West Side of Chicago. The purpose of these visits will be to build friendship and Gospel communion with one another. This is the vision, as Pastor Michael and Canon William call it, of “walking across the street.”

Everyone is invited to join us on Saturday, September 16 for joint worship and an orientation for this new ministry opportunity. We will gather at the Greenhouse Mission Center in Oak Park, IL. More details will be forthcoming, and they will be sent out diocese-wide so that all can be praying. (If you already know that you want to be a part of one of these teams or have questions, please contact our cathedral Mission Director, Kaitlyn Wallett, at kaitlyn@churchrez.org.)

Other leaders in other regions of the diocese may be inspired to lead a similar ministry. Praise God, and please be in touch with Canon William if this is the case.

I am also thrilled to announce that Pastor Michael will be joining us at Church of the Resurrection to preach the Word of God on Sunday, October 1. There will be an opportunity to hear more from him in an afternoon seminar about his vision for deeper partnership between our diocese and African-American churches on the West Side. Audio recordings of both events will be distributed as well.

Please ensure that prayers are offered on Sunday in Prayers of the People for the people of Charlottesville, for the pushing back of the scourge of racism in our country, and for the work of revival in our diocese. And please make this a personal commitment as well.  I also understand that many will not be able to attend the September 16 meeting, but will want to make a difference. For ideas on how you can respond, please listen to Pastor Matt Woodley’s recent sermon here.

Much love,

Bishop Stewart Ruch III

on behalf of the Deans of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest
Fr. Christian Ruch
Fr. Eirik Olsen
Canon and Missioner General William Beasley