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Dear sisters and brothers,

I am writing to share with you the launch of a new diocesan-wide
formation initiative for the coming year and beyond. This past year,
we read together the book of Exodus and we worked as a diocese and in
our congregations to move out to serve the neighborhoods that surround
us. As we continue to grow as followers of Jesus, we are committing to
“Becoming Beloved Community.”

Our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, has challenged the church to
focus on becoming “beloved community.” (See more) This is a direct
reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s way of talking about the
kingdom of God. Dr. King was insisting that the reign of God can and
must begin to be realized in our time.

Dr. King’s notion of beloved community was derived, at least in part,
from his study of the late nineteenth-century American philosopher,
Josiah Royce. Royce argued that we find our fulfillment and our truth
in committing ourselves to justice, mercy and loyalty to one another,
in ways that do not exclude the stranger. This is not just a moral
imperative. It must arise from our deep desire for this kind of
relationship with one another and with the human race as a whole.
Hence, the term “beloved community” connotes the possibility of a
diverse association of people joined together by a common commitment
to be one while being open to the stranger.

So “beloved community” means two things together. On the one hand, it
means community we love. On the other hand, it means unpredictable
community we might not have expected, made up of different races,
languages, classes, partisan persuasions and religious affiliations.
This is the God-given community we are being called to love, whatever
narrower kind of company we are privately or habitually predisposed

This is the exodus we are invited into: out of narrowness into
breadth. The New Testament is constantly picking up on the exodus
theme (since this is what Jesus is all about), but the most sustained
reprise of that story is the sequel to Luke’s Gospel, The Acts of the
Apostles. That book traces the dynamic movement of the church from its
first beginnings on Pentecost in Jerusalem outwards into the larger
Jewish and then pagan world. Acts tells the story of the fledgling
church’s embrace of the wide and messy community God is calling us to

With this in mind, our next Big Read will focus on the Gospel of Luke
and the Acts of the Apostles, from this coming Advent until Pentecost.
We will commit to not only reading these books together but to
exploring the kind of Beloved Communities we are called to create and
nurture as a diocese. To make it possible for our entire diocese to
embrace this call to Becoming Beloved Community, I have appointed a
Becoming Beloved Community Task Force and have given them charge of
developing this initiative. All of the work highlighted here in this
email has come out of the task force, and I give thanks for their hard
and thoughtful work.

More information on the BBC initiative will be coming in the September
issue of Connections. We also have developed a special website,
wwwDSOBeloved.org, as a "one-stop shop" for all things relating to
Becoming Beloved Community. I encourage you to visit this website
regularly as events, workshops, trainings and more are added.


The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal

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