Listening = Action

by Pam Tinsley

Our Baptismal Covenant is much more than the words we recite at baptism or when we renew our baptismal promises. Our Baptismal Covenant is a call to action. It is a call to live our lives differently from secular society by living and loving as Jesus does. And that call applies to every aspect of our lives, whether we’re at home, in the community, at work, or at church.

Sometimes the action that we are called to do is simply to listen – in particular as we, the body of Christ, strive for racial justice and to respect the dignity of People of Color.

In October the Diocese of Olympia devoted most of its day-and-a-half annual convention to listening to the voices of those who have been deeply hurt by the Church. Our diocesan Ethnic Ministries Circles of Color invited us into a Listening Circle of Voices in The Wilderness. A dozen or so panelists shared their experiences of pain and perseverance in response to the questions:

  • What do you love about being part of the Diocese of Olympia?
  • What harm have you experienced or witnessed in the Episcopal Church?
  • What might the diocese do to more fully become the Beloved Community?

Each story revealed how deep and pervasive both systemic racism and cultural indifference to it are. Panelists relived the historical trauma that the dominant culture had inflicted upon them with the uncertainty of how others would respond.  Sharing their personal pain was a profound act of trust. These advocates of repentance, reconciliation, and justice were willing to invite those of us who benefit from White privilege into this circle of love so that together, through acceptance and respect, we can transform the world.

Their stories of pain were at times heart-wrenching. And yet, we also heard stories of joy and we heard wisdom – simply by listening deeply and respectfully to our friends as they called us to live more intentionally into our baptism in order to be more fully the body of Christ.

Who might you listen more deeply to as a first step in inviting trust?

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