Almost without warning, the self-identified former neo-nazi skinhead was pacing the platform, microphone in hand. This morning, Friday, day 2 of General Convention, called the two houses together for a time called “Joint Session on Racial Reconciliation.” The first speaker was Arno Michaelis who shared a story of helping a friend and thus his friend’s young son, escape the grasp of hate groups. Arno was passionate, telling us how he himself had escaped because others “loved the nazi out of me” with forgiveness and compassion. Next, we were introduced to Charles Dawain Stephens affectionally known as Chucky Black. A poet and an activist, Chucky Black silenced the crowd when he stood up and started with the line “For this we will need a cauldron…” and continued with a passionate, prophetic poem that had us all on our feet in a rousing ovation. With shouts from the Atlanta delegation, we next heard from our own Dr. Catherine Meeks who declared “racism: your time is over!” and then she lured us into the work she had dedicated her life to doing. She invited the body into the work of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing and reminded us that love and acceptance is the way forward. The last speaker we were honored to hear was The Rev. Nancy Frausto, a priest and a dreamer. She started quoting a friend who said, “You can not have reconciliation without justice, and you are not going to get justice without telling the truth” and then she did. She told her truth of being seven years old, hiding from border patrol, recalling every single moment of the night she escaped bondage and found freedom being reunited with her father in America. She gave us the image of Lazarus and told us to tell the truth, and unbind each other and ourselves.
The Absalom Jones Center for Racial healing held a luncheon where some 150 deputies and guests came to learn and be exposed to our work. Bishop Wright addressed the crowd and Catherine had us pass a basket for donations.
The afternoon legislative session held some anxiety. Revising the Book of Common Prayer causes a lot of feelings, understandably so. We debated and discussed in the House of Deputies for an hour and a half and left with a suspension of session to carry the conversation into this morning. The queue is full of deputies yearning to be heard, and I am delighted to report that I believe that is being done faithfully. There is surely more to come.