The Exodus Colloquium , the capstone event of the Exodus Big Read, will take place on Saturday, April 7 at All Saints, New Albany. We will be joined by Carol Meyers and Terence Fretheim, the authors of two of the commentaries that we’ve been using in our diocesan-wide study, as well as Bishop Breidenthal and Mark Stevenson of Episcopal Migration Ministries.
The Exodus Colloquium will help us celebrate the year that has passed, ask the final, burning questions that are weighing on our souls, and consider where the Exodus story is leading us, both as faithful individuals and as a diocese.
Congregations all over the diocese have shown amazing creativity in their approaches to the Exodus story. At Grace Church, Cincinnati, J. White led her fellow parishioners in an exodus from conducting worship in the expected ways; moving the service out into the parking lot, into the transept, and into the music room on different Sundays. St. Philip’s, Columbus, has held several art shows examining exodus themes. St. Alban’s, Bexley, held a film series that explores themes in Exodus. And everywhere, there have been Bible studies, adult forums and special speakers’ series. Of special mention is the “From Bondage to Liberation” Lenten series at Christ Church Cathedral featuring Bishop Breidenthal and being live streamed to the whole diocese.
Throughout this year, I’ve been blessed with encountering these efforts and the many articles and opinion pieces that people in the diocese have singled out for our attention. Rachel Wheeler’s article “Charlottesville, Exodus, and the Politics of Nostalgia,” is one that has been particularly resonant for me. In it, Wheeler, writing for religionandpolitics.org, points out that different segments of the American people have different views of Exodus. For white Americans, our national identity began with the idea that we had already arrived in the Promised Land – although John Winthrop went out of his way to emphasize that this would only be true if we treated each other with justice. But for Americans of color, our national identity includes a continued journey towards the Promised Land. We are still in the wilderness, and God’s promise has yet to be fulfilled. Wheeler’s article has given me an important lens for understanding our current predicament.
There are multiple lenses through which we can view the story of Exodus, and our Colloquium presenters will provide four more on April 7. Fretheim, whose book in the Interpreter’s Bible Commentary series has been one of our guiding lights throughout our study, will reiterate the major themes in Exodus for us. Meyers, whose book on Exodus for the New Cambridge Bible Commentary has provided us with deep archeological insight into what the world was like at the time of the Exodus, will help us examine how memory shapes community. Stevenson, whose work with Episcopal Migration Ministries focuses us on people who are currently in exodus from their homelands while seeking a promised place of peace and hope, will help us articulate what Exodus has to say to our current moment. Bishop Breidenthal will end the day by going deeper into these questions, and helping us understand what they mean for our lives together as a diocese.
This Exodus year has been a period of learning and embracing both the story of whom we have been and our hope for what we’ll become. Like Moses, we end our year by sitting on a mountain, looking down into the Promised Land. What will that Promised Land offer us, and what will we offer it? How will our covenant with God deepen in the coming years? Join us on April 7 as we consider these questions and bring the story to a close, at least for now.
The Exodus Colloquium will take place Saturday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at All Saints, New Albany. There is no cost for this event, and lunch will be provided. Register at diosohio.org/events.
The Rev. Karl Stevens convenes the diocesan-wide learning task force that made the Exodus Big Read possible. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.