Dear Folks,

This year I am so thankful for Sacred Ground, a small group dialogue centered on the American story of race and racism. It’s a sensitive, prayerful resource designed by Episcopalians, and new groups are forming right now. Here’s what several Redeemer parishioners are saying:

For me, the work of Sacred Ground was the work of getting closer–closer to the truth of my country’s history, closer to my fellow Redeemer parishioners, closer to my own, often unexamined, beliefs. It’s the most rewarding experience I’ve had in a long time. 

I came to Sacred Ground confident that I had a pretty good grasp of the history of slavery and race relations and that I was going to learn about what interventions might work. But I did not understand much of the history, and I was not at all prepared for the national reemergence of racial equality as a seriously debatable issue in America. The Sacred Ground discussions were simply invaluable.

The Sacred Ground curriculum opened my eyes to a history I had not learned, giving me context to better understand current times. The small group discussions opened my heart to a deeper understanding of God’s love for us and His wish for us to live in beloved community.

I grew up with black people and thought I was enlightened about race issues. This program opened my eyes to the reality that I was not, and I will never be the same.

 During the pandemic, Sacred Ground has been a gift. I’m joining the course for a third time because I want to know more folks at Redeemer, and I want to stay engaged in conversations about our nation’s history.

Sacred Ground was a powerful way for me to build deeper relationships with people in our parish, and to move together from reflection and prayer to action. The world needs us to take action, however small, to dismantle unjust and oppressive structures and build the beloved community.  

For me, the Sacred Ground films and readings and the small group discussions gave me a solid understanding of the history that underlies so many of the challenges confronting our city of Baltimore and a deeper appreciation for how we, as followers of Jesus at Redeemer might more faithfully—lovingly—engage with the community in addressing those challenges.

The third cohort will be led by an extraordinary group of parishioners: Catherine Gearhart, Erin Hagar, Sarah Hoover, Steve Jencks, Patty McLean, Kate Pisano, David Wallack, Christina Way, and Ted Winstead. Each of them speaks of being profoundly moved by the course experience, and I encourage you to join one of their circles now forming.

What will center you this Thanksgiving, in these challenging times? And how are you being called to grow? Consider the gift of this blessed nation, a wonderful yet flawed experiment in democracy, always striving to more fully embody its ideals… where all people are created equal and invited to pursue their happiness, where individual rights are balanced by a commitment to the common good, where life and liberty and laws are for all, and not only a few. How can we make our country better, now? And what part do you play in building God’s beloved community?

Here’s a blessing for your table this week: May God give you the grace never to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, and grace to remember now that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love. (William Sloane Coffin)