Poor People’s Campaign Congressional Briefing 

Poor People’s Campaign Congressional Briefing 

Poor People’s Campaign Congressional Briefing
September 22, 2022

Statement from the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington

My name is Mariann Budde and I serve as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, a geographic region of our denomination which encompasses all of the District of Columbia and four of the most populous Maryland counties.

Within this region are some of the most affluent communities in the nation, and some of the poorest. There are children who attend the finest schools that money can buy, and others consigned to schools that are understaffed and woefully under-resourced. Some families live in luxury; others in rat-infested apartments and, in the rural areas, in homes with no running water or electricity.

This region boasts of some of the finest restaurants and grocery stores, which everyone in this chamber has enjoyed, and yet food insecurity is pervasive not only among those who are homeless and unemployed, but also among the working poor. In one such program run out of one of our churches, 1100 families depend weekly on distributions of food; in another, located in what appears to be an affluent neighborhood, hundreds of people line up each week for an allotment of two grocery bags. Most who seek this assistance work are working more than one job, yet do not earn a living wage.

Every day, we as clergy must decide whom we will serve. And I daresay, so do you.

The economic disparity in our nation, that has shockingly increased over our lifetimes, is the root cause of nearly every one of our society’s seemingly intractable problems. It is the result of public policy decisions made under the undue influence of those who stand to benefit most from that disparity.

We are not naive. Those who benefit from the policies as they are would prefer, and work hard, to keep those consigned to poverty silenced and invisible. But this movement exists to ensure that they will not be kept silent–and neither will we.

We are here to remind you of your sacred duty as elected officials of this democracy.

Specifically, we are here to speak in one voice, asking you to take a position before the midterm elections on three critical issues: voter suppression, designed to keep those most adversely affected by economic disparities out of our political process; legislation to ensure a living wage for those who work hard each day and often through the night, and still do not earn enough to meet basic needs, and to simply to extend the policies proven to have lifted millions of families out of poverty–namely the child income tax credit.

Why on earth would we consign families to poverty again, when a change in policy and resource allocation had such a life-affirming outcome? It is not cruel; it is short-sighted.

We are asking you to be brave. We are asking you to lead, to address the shameful disparities that public policies and laws have created, and that public policies and laws can correct.

Thank you.

Shield Your Joy

Shield Your Joy

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11

I’ve noticed something this September in my Sunday visitations, various gatherings with clergy and lay leaders throughout the diocese, one-on-one conversations, and the wondrous celebration of ordination and consecration of Bishop Paula Clark in the Diocese of Chicago–a palpable spirit of joy in our churches.

In some instances, the joy is exuberant, as was certainly the case in Chicago; in others, it is more subdued, but no less real. At times, the joy is a direct correlation of a happy event; at others, a welcome respite from grief or fatigue that remains, but no longer has the final word.

How to account for this joy, I find myself wondering. While it is not universal, there is a noticeable energy among us for which I give thanks.

For many, I suspect, the joy is the result of being together, and having the freedom to enjoy social events and simple human interactions that we once took for granted. Although Covid 19 is still present and causing many to suffer, we don’t have to live with the same levels of fear and extreme caution that defined our lives for nearly two years. Worshiping God with one another once again in our sacred spaces can bring us to tears.

Joy, we know, is not the same as optimism or cheerfulness. It goes deeper than happiness can reach, into the realm of meaning. It comes to us, often in unlikely times and places, giving us hope, even as we face real challenges and struggles. “Happiness,” wrote the late Frederick Buechner, “turns up more or less where you’d expect it to–a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the One who bequeaths it.”1

The Scriptures speak of being filled with joy, or of joy breaking forth, descending upon those who live in darkness or fear, underscoring the fact that joy is a gift. They also describe what is surely the most costly joy of all, that we can experience on the other side of what the 23rd Psalm describes as “the valley of the shadow of death.” Jesus spoke of the way of the cross as the way of life. It is the joy of having made it through the hardest things, forever marked by them, but with our hope and love intact.

That’s what we saw on Bishop Paula Clark’s face during her consecration on September 17th–the joy of having come through the loneliest valley to the other side. She bears the marks of suffering, yet she is still Paula, only wiser now, clearer about what is most important, and without fear, for she knows that nothing can separate her, or anyone of us, from the love of God revealed to us in Jesus.

I have seen that same joy on many of your faces here in the Diocese of Washington; I’ve felt it in our midst and as we continue on the path God has set before us. And I say to you what I said to Bishop Paula and the Diocese of Chicago on Saturday: shield your joy.

Protect, cherish, and nurture joy in one another. Make space for it. Where it is lacking, pray for the gift to be given you, so that it might continue to be, or become once again, a defining characteristic of your ministry. For without it, the church is a dreary place, and life itself becomes a routine of daily obligations. Remember that Jesus came–he lived, died, and rose from the dead–so that our joy may be complete.

The presence of joy in Christian community is, I daresay, one of the most accurate indicators of vitality and of what is possible in its future–far more so than size, money in the bank, or programmatic sophistication. That joy is Jesus’ promise, and gift. Don’t miss out on the chance to experience and share it in your congregation.

Link to Sermon for the Consecration and Ordination of the Rt. Rev. Paula Clark, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago English | Español

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13. Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABCs, (HarperOne, 1993) 57-8.

Protege Tu Alegría

Protege Tu Alegría

Estas cosas les he hablado, para que mi gozo esté en ustedes, y su gozo sea completo.
Juan 15:11

He notado algo este mes de septiembre en mis visitas dominicales, en varias reuniones con el clero y los líderes laicos de toda la diócesis, en conversaciones individuales y en la maravillosa celebración de la ordenación y consagración de la Obispa Paula Clark en la Diócesis de Chicago – un espíritu palpable de alegría en nuestras iglesias.

En algunos casos, la alegría es exuberante, como fue ciertamente el caso en Chicago; en otros, es más tenue, pero no menos real. A veces, la alegría es una correlación directa de un acontecimiento feliz; en otras, un bienvenido respiro de la pena o la fatiga que permanece, pero que ya no tiene la última palabra.

Me pregunto cómo explicar esta alegría. Aunque no es universal, hay una energía notable entre nosotros por la cual doy las gracias.

Para muchos, sospecho, la alegría es el resultado de estar juntos, y de tener la libertad de disfrutar de eventos sociales y de simples interacciones humanas que antes dábamos por sentadas. Aunque el Covid 19 sigue presente y hace sufrir a muchos, no tenemos que vivir con los mismos niveles de miedo y extrema precaución que definieron nuestras vidas durante casi dos años. Adorar a Dios juntos una vez más en nuestros espacios sagrados puede hacernos llorar.

La alegría, lo sabemos, no es lo mismo que el optimismo o la felicidad. Va más allá de lo que la felicidad puede alcanzar, al ámbito del significado. Viene a nosotros, a menudo en momentos y lugares improbables, dándonos esperanza, incluso cuando nos enfrentamos a retos y luchas reales. “La felicidad”, escribió el difunto Frederick Buechner, “aparece más o menos donde uno espera que suceda: un buen matrimonio, un trabajo gratificante, unas vacaciones agradables. La alegría, en cambio, es tan notoriamente impredecible como Aquel que la da”.

Las Escrituras hablan de estar llenos de alegría, o de que la alegría irrumpe, descendiendo sobre los que viven en la oscuridad o el miedo, subrayando el hecho de que la alegría es un don. También describen lo que seguramente es la alegría más costosa de todas, la que podemos experimentar al otro lado de lo que el Salmo 23 describe como “el valle de sombra de muerte”. Jesús habló del camino de la cruz como el camino de la vida. Es la alegría de haber superado las cosas más duras, marcadas para siempre por ellas, pero con nuestra esperanza y nuestro amor intactos.

Eso es lo que vimos en el rostro de la Obispa Paula Clark durante su consagración el 17 de septiembre: la alegría de haber llegado al otro lado del valle más solitario. Lleva las marcas del sufrimiento, pero sigue siendo Paula, sólo que ahora es más sabia, tiene más claro lo que es más importante, y no tiene miedo, porque sabe que nada puede separarla, ni a ella ni a ninguno de nosotros, del amor de Dios que se nos ha revelado en Jesús.

He visto esa misma alegría en los rostros de muchos de ustedes aquí en la Diócesis de Washington; la he sentido en medio de nosotros y mientras continuamos en el camino que Dios ha puesto ante nosotros. Y les digo lo que le dije a la Obispa Paula y a la Diócesis de Chicago el sábado: protejan su alegría.

Protejan, cuiden y alimenten la alegría de los demás. Hagan espacio para ella. Donde falte, oren para que se les conceda el don, para que siga siendo, o vuelva a ser, una característica definitoria de su ministerio. Sin la alegría, la iglesia es un lugar aburrido, y la vida misma se convierte en una rutina de obligaciones diarias. Pero Jesús vino – vivió, murió y resucitó – para que nuestra alegría sea completa.

La presencia de la alegría en la comunidad cristiana es, me atrevo a decir, uno de los indicadores más precisos de la vitalidad y de lo que es posible en su futuro, mucho más que el tamaño, el dinero en el banco o la sofisticación programática. Esa alegría es la promesa y el regalo de Jesús. No pierdas la oportunidad de experimentarla y compartirla en tu congregación.

Enlace al sermón para la Consagración y Ordenación de la Reverenda Paula Clark, Obispa de la Diócesis Episcopal de Chicago Español | Inglés

Autumn Prayers and Intentions

Autumn Prayers and Intentions

As we make the transition from summer to fall, I find myself praying with greater intention words that we recite nearly every Sunday in worship:

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid
(Book of Common Prayer)

In addition, I have taken as my rule of life words from the prophet Micah that Jesus clearly lived by:

He has told you,
O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8)

Amid the quickening pace and many tasks of early autumn, the first prayer helps me to remember that God sees and knows not only my outward-facing self, but also my inner life, full of hopes and contradictions, giftedness and sin, strength and vulnerability. It helps me remember that every one of us has such a life beneath and beyond our public personas and the roles we play in one another’s lives.

Micah’s words are at the heart of a nation-wide effort among Christians during the upcoming election season to promote a way of engaging in important matters of justice in the public arena with clarity, kindness and appropriate humility. It’s called The Be Campaign, and I invite you to consider taking part in upcoming weeks, as individuals and communities of faith. Join in taking the Be Just, Kind and Humble Pledge as your own.

This is more than a public ministry initiative for me. It is at the heart of my relationship with Jesus and the guiding principle of my life. In all that I do and say, from the moment I rise in the morning until I lay my head down at night, I am praying for the grace to heed Micah’s words. What can I do each day to be just, kind and humble? What must I refrain from doing–and saying–that does not rise to the aspirational standards of these three imperatives?

In his book, Love is the Way, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry writes of this approach as “standing and kneeling at the same time.” In other words, he encourages us to stand firm in the truth as we understand it and the convictions of justice that the Gospel of Jesus mandates while at the same time kneeling in humility before the dignity of every human being, especially those with whom we struggle or disagree.

Let me be clear that such an approach does not mean that we avoid challenging issues in our personal relationships or the hard and often divisive work of justice. Rather, as Jesus-followers we engage the work with sacrificial commitment, kindness and humility, virtues that are sorely lacking in nearly every area of life.

To be sure, there is much before us in the days and weeks ahead, as individuals, faith communities, and the nation. As you take up your work, I pray that you may feel and know God’s love for you, the One to whom your heart is open, all desires are known, and from whom no secrets are hidden. And that together, by grace, we may make our just, kind and humble witness to Jesus and his way of love for all.

Upcoming Lambeth Conference for Anglican Bishops

Upcoming Lambeth Conference for Anglican Bishops

God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Dear Friends of the Diocese of Washington,

As I make my way to England to attend the two week Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, I have in mind the counsel a wise priest gave me when I was first elected bishop. He said, “When you’re clear about an issue, don’t pretend that you’re not.” I have since realized that his words are equally helpful in the reverse: When I’m not clear, there’s nothing to be gained by pretending that I am.

Since deciding to attend, my daily prayer has been to go to Lambeth with an open heart, so that I might pray alongside bishops from around the world, listen to and learn from colleagues whose life experiences are vastly different from mine. I expect to be humbled and challenged as we discuss pressing global issues and ask ourselves what it means “to be God’s church for God’s world,” which is the conference’s overall theme. There is so much about which I am not clear, and I am ready to enter into prayerful discernment with others.

On one matter, however, I am clear, as are most bishops coming from the Episcopal Church: the validity and sanctity of same gender marriage. I am more than happy to share with others how we came to our position of full acceptance and inclusion for LGBTQ+ persons, with rightful access to all the sacraments of the Church, including marriage. I intend to listen respectfully to those who feel otherwise. But I will not pretend that in the Diocese of Washington this is a topic for which further discernment is needed. Imagine how painful this conversation will be for the married gay and lesbian bishops invited to Lambeth, and all in our church whose marriages are a continual topic of debate.

I hadn’t thought it necessary to write to you on this matter, for the Archbishop of Canterbury had assured us that our primary focus would be on all that unites us as Anglican followers of Jesus and on global concerns we must address together. I believe that is still the case, and in that spirit I go. But last week we received the documents that will guide our conversations. We will be asked to discuss ten topics and then express our individual response to matters ranging from Mission and Evangelism to the Environment and Sustainable Development. In a section entitled “Human Dignity,” which begins with a declaration that all human beings are created in the image of God and includes the affirmation that “all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ” we will be asked “to uphold marriage as between a man and woman.” The only options we have been given as our response to this and all other statements are full endorsement or “needs further discernment.”

It’s a puzzling insertion within a topic that deals primarily with the enduring dehumanizing effects of colonialism, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and unjust economic systems. I’m not sure what to make of it, and I don’t know what will happen when the topic comes up. But on this matter I am clear and will not pretend otherwise. Based on the multitude of letters coming from other bishops across the Episcopal Church this week, I am not alone.

I commend to you one such letter written by Bishop Susan Snook of the Diocese of San Diego. Bishop Snook gives a helpful historical overview of the Lambeth Conferences and how we in the United States and elsewhere have come to our understanding of human sexuality and LGBTQ inclusion as, indeed, matters of human dignity.

Serendipitously, in the two weeks between our General Convention and Lambeth, several of us in EDOW and other dioceses have been crafting an alternative lectionary season for this October based on Micah 6:8, to help us all speak to one another clearly, yet with kindness and mutual respect when discussing divisive issues. More on that to come soon. In the meantime, I will have ample opportunity to practice being just, kind and humble at the Lambeth Conference.

I am honored to represent the Diocese of Washington at the Lambeth Conference. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Faithfully,
Bishop Mariann