The one and only time I spoke at a Diocesan Convention in the Diocese of Dallas (my ordaining diocese) was when I went to the microphone to speak about the inconsistencies I was observing in the gospel of Jesus and the action of the Diocese as it chose to withhold funds from the National Church because of its disagreement with some of the policies at the National level—mainly regarding LGBTQ relationships.
Due to my work with the clergy of color Ministries at the National level, I knew that a lot of the funds spent at the higher levels of the Episcopal Church were monies that aided congregations of primarily African-American, Latino, and Indigenous communities who had traditionally been hurt in their ability to simply survive. These churches were not just places of worship, but places of community life and personal formation and the demise of a church represented the loss, in a sense, of the soul of that community. I thought I had to speak up.
At the end of the day, though, the Diocese chose to vote its policy of withholding funds to the National Church, although part of my plea had been for us to see the people who would be affected negatively beyond the policy.
I now know that the same issue surfaced in Kabul (prior to the US exist) and I dare say, typically happens in other places where unwise decisions are made by those in authority who forget that their polices affect people. This concerns me on all sides. It worries me mostly because the authority is granted due to the financial wealth imbued—not the wisdom, compassion, or even intellect necessarily. Money is used as a weapon against others for sake of self. Such decisions are made without personal engagement with the peoples who are affected by those decisions.
I reflect on this memory for myself as well as you who read it. “To whom much is given; much is required.” [cf Lk 12:48] When we are given the opportunity and the grace, to affect change in an-other’s life (whether an ailing spouse, a child, or any neighbor) by way of a rule (whether personal and private or public policy), let’s just make sure that we, too, have some skin-in-the-game, namely the Skin of Compassion. Otherwise, #aintnojesusinit!