A Letter from Bishop Mariann Budde regarding a communication from the Presiding Bishop, Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis

by | May 18, 2018

Dear Clergy Colleagues,

Blessings to you on this Pentecost weekend. May your celebrations on Sunday be filled with a palpable manifestation of the Spirit’s power.

During my sabbatical, I’ve had time to consider the many ways the Holy Spirit, working in us, accomplishes far more than we can ask for or imagine. I’m grateful how in the past seven years, I’ve experienced the Holy Spirit at work in and among you, and I look forward to being back with you soon. In the meantime, know that I am praying for you, that you might experience in new ways the Holy Spirit moving through your lives and ministries.

I write with a Pentecost invitation, and challenge, from our Presiding Bishop.

While the headlines regarding Presiding Bishop Curry have focused of late on his role in the royal wedding in London, he has been quietly at work for months with other Christian leaders calling themselves “the elders,” on an initiative that they have named Reclaiming Jesus.

Today he wrote to all bishops in the Episcopal Church asking us to share with you the first fruits of this work.

First a bit of background: On Ash Wednesday, Presiding Bishop Curry gathered with leaders from across the spectrum of Christian denominations, among them, Richard Rohr, Amos Brown, National Baptist, Walter Brueggemann, Barbara Williams-Skinner, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Cynthia Hale and others. They came together to pray and share their concerns, in their words, “for the soul of our nation and the integrity of faith.”

Together they drafted a statement: Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis. Throughout the Easter season, they worked to refine their message and provide resources to accompany it. They wanted it to be more than a statement, but the beginning of a process of discernment, prayer, reflection and, action for us all. Now they are preparing for a public launch of this initiative at Pentecost including a prayer vigil and service on Thursday, May 24th in Washington.

The elders have invited other Christian leaders to co-sign the confession of faith, provided that we would share the statement and supplemental resources with the clergy and congregations in our charge, which I am glad to do, for the concerns they raise are ones that I share.

Much of the language of the confession is in the form of renunciations, rejecting the forces of wickedness that rebel against God and demean humankind. There is also a bold affirmation that being a disciple of Jesus propels us not only to a personal journey of salvation but a public life committed to the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. I am committed to both the personal and public dimensions of being Jesus’ disciple, which is why I signed Reclaiming Jesus. I am well aware that statements are insufficient without corresponding action, as we are called to join in creating a world aligned with God’s dream for humankind.

The prayer service, to which all are invited, will be held on May 24, 7 p.m. at the National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle, Washington, DC, 20005. Following the service, the elders will lead a candlelight procession to a prayer vigil at the White House. You can find more details about the service and vigil here. Here, too, is a short video which in just over a day has been viewed by almost half a million people. Surely that is an indication of the hunger in our churches and beyond for this expression of Christian leadership.

I will pray and process with the Presiding Bishop and those gathered on May 24th and invite you to join us, either in person or live stream. If you resonate with the concerns expressed in Reclaiming Jesus, please share it with the people under your spiritual care. May we all be open to the Holy Spirit life-giving power, this Pentecost and always.

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of Washington