(Note: This statement was also sent out in our newsletter recently. We are reprinting it here, on our blog as well.)
In the past few months, we have seen protests around the globe in response to racial injustice. We, the board, staff, and members of the Sycamore House, want to make it clear where we stand and that the conversation and actions around racial injustice must continue.
We mourn the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, as well as the countless Black individuals whose lives have been ended tragically and too soon. We believe that Black lives matter, and we stand in solidarity with the Black community to ensure that the deep inequalities in our society are ended.
At the Sycamore House, our philosophy of ministry is built on the belief that Jesus invites us into the way of Love and calls us into engagement and hospitality, to “participate in community with all of its joys and challenges.” We cannot celebrate community fully when our siblings are hurting. As a part of entering into community, we must also work to change all forms of injustice around us and within our own communities.
We are a ministry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. We recognize that we exist within institutions that are overwhelmingly white and have perpetuated racism. We echo our Bishop Audrey Scanlan’s words that we must do the work to dismantle racist systems.
The Bishop of Indiana, Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows said in her recent reflection: “So here is the challenge for the Episcopal Church: we need to stop being afraid of committing to the work of dismantling systemic racism and white supremacy. We need to learn and understand how it operates inside the Episcopal Church and in the world. As a predominately white institution that is rooted in the American experiment, we must be unequivocal and clear.”
In our mission to equip young adults, we commit ourselves to continuing the work of becoming an anti-racist ministry. We recommit to this work of exploring faith and vocation with young adults in anti-racist ways. We commit ourselves to standing for justice and being attentive to God’s spirit as we move forward in this mission. We will infuse anti-racist practices, trainings, and learning into our formation curriculum. We will seek out the voices of Black and Brown leaders in our learning. The Board will further our own understanding by reading and discussing Drew Hart’s book, “Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism.” We commit to examining and revising structures of the program in order to create a more welcoming program to Corps Members of Color.
We know that we have more to learn, and we will continue to make the work of social justice, and specifically racial justice, a priority.