Dear Friends in Christ,
I began my June 26, 2020 letter to you with the age-old joke: How many Anglicans does it take to change a lightbulb? While the punchlines are many and mostly pretty corny, our laughter is still telling. We know full well that change comes hard for most of us. The circumstances in which we live because of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to stretch our imaginations, patience, and creativity. We grow ever more concerned about what the future might hold for us. It’s in times such as these that those of us who are glass-half-full kind of folks look for the silver lining. Those of us who bend toward a glass-half-empty wring our hands with worry. Like it or not, we are changing.
In the midst of this upset and disruption comes the brutal killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Since that heinous crime took place there has been a boiling over, a taking to the streets, a community expression of anger, protest and an enough-is-enough attitude against anti-Black racism. There is an ever-growing circle in society – including in the Church – that is speaking out.
One of the opportunities of learning and teaching that I have appreciated very much in this season of change is the Wednesday evening Roundtable Discussions sponsored by Black Anglicans of Canada. For the past two Wednesdays almost 100 people have participated in these informative and challenging presentations. There are two more events offered in July. On July 22, the topic is Anti-Black Racism in Institutions and the speaker is Dr. Carl Everton James. On July 29, the topic is Bending the Knee and Changing the Hearts: A Toronto Model for a Just Intercultural Church, the speaker is the Rev. Dr. Sonia Hinds. I encourage you to attend. Here is the link. I will be there.
Angela Y. Davis, activist, academic, writer and teacher once said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” The events of the last few weeks are challenging us to see anew and to change what we can no longer accept. It is time to challenge and to question how structures shape our attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and bias. We must understand and confront white privilege, institutional and systemic racism that so many of us have been blind to for too long. And we must not be afraid to become agents of transformation. To dismantle racism in all of its forms takes commitment, community and faith in order to realize progress and change. It means becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. It means taking a very long look in the mirror and understanding the part that we each play. Jesus reminds us, whether half-full or half-empty, we are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world. Change.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto