This week, more than 400 people joined ECM for our 2019 Annual Celebration. Here are some reflections from our community members on the evening.
Profesor Miguel De La Torre’s address to the ECM celebration brought to mind this quote from Audre Lorde, a Black, lesbian, feminist poet and activist: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
Or in Dr. De La Torre’s words, we need to decolonize our minds. What a difficult, lifelong task it is to try to dismantle a worldview which possesses you like a demon. Like Dr. De La Torre, there are numerous times that my thoughts, words, and deeds betrayed just how steeped I am in the quest for my individual fulfillment or in the myth of endless progress.
And yet, I am desperate to live. And I want other queer people—Black, Latina, Indigenous, Asian—to have life and to have it abundantly. As a Christian, I choose to believe that abundant life is to be had by following Jesus and his way of love. As an Episcopalian, I choose to believe that way of love can best be found in the sacraments and in the pattern of regular life our tradition calls “common payer.” But as a queer Latino young clergyperson, I refuse to accept that Christian, Episcopal community requires a suffocating Anglophilia, a prioritization of the intellect over the body, and a slavish devotion to rote text over the true spirit of the words, whether that’s the 1662 or the 1979 BCP, not to mention the ever-present racism, classism, etc. That is why I hope to create new communities throughout my ordained ministry, especially for Christians like me—colonized, marginalized, oppressed, dispossessed—where our desperation to live provokes us to celebrate sacraments in ways that make sense for us and to create common prayer in our own words and rhythms, which will help us decolonize our minds. To that work, I am thankful that I can now add the disruptive, prophetic thinking of Dr. De La Torre.
Rev. Isaac Provencio Martinez
The theme, “Disrupting Hope,” already invoked in myself as a person of color, I understood a somewhat epistemological humility from white colonial philosophical pragmatism. The understanding that, beyond the scale of immediate and past experiences of hopelessness, a new lens of perspective was to be manifested. I entered the auditorium to people anticipating this perspective, albeit apprehensive. However, the commendable synergy of the ECM Board and members was distinctly noticeable.
I could not help but think back of my experience as a young priest in the mid 90’s when I entered the podium at the annual Bishop’s Synod in South Africa, to plead the plight of youth of color in the Anglican Church. A look of discomfort, nervousness, and agitation was displayed on the faces of most white bishops. “This young colored priest is coming to disrupt our comfort zones again!” All I told them was to take seriously the focus theme for the synod, “Wash one another’s feet”, (but include all sizes). I added.
Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre, keynote speaker, understood full well that we live in the face of hostility towards minorities, and with continued persecution, injustice, and white supremacy, it is time to apply radical solidarity. The awards given to well-deserved persons were indeed commendable gestures of true virtue, especially when hearing the stories of Marius, stuck in detention for 6 months. I felt a deep, intrinsic wave of the “revolutionary” true character of God in action. “Onward Christian Soldiers!”
Pax et Bonum,
Rev. Noble F. Scheepers
I saw spirit moving throughout the celebration, especially in the diversity of participation—of age, culture, language, gender, race, faith tradition—all deeply committed to the work of justice-making. Just being in that room, and hearing all those voices, was very inspiring to me.
I was especially moved, as I am always at these Celebrations, of the way ECM honors such a wide range of specific, concrete, and effective examples of prophetic leadership. These leaders remind me every year that there are many different ways to go about the work of transforming communities, and I am grateful to ECM for teaching us how we can support each other in this important work.
Just as our Presiding Bishop has reminded us that love is a spiritual discipline not a sentimental feeling, Miguel De La Torre encouraged us to hope in a spiritually disciplined way. He challenged us to embrace true hope, which demands engagement in, not avoidance of, the hard work of racial reconciliation and economic justice. I am eager for our churches to take this challenge to heart!
Rev. Canon Edie Dolnikowski