Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has lifted up the “Jesus Movement” as a path forward for the Episcopal Church. We are called to “become instruments of the healing and reconciling love of Jesus, whose loving, liberating, and life-giving way we follow.” As we live into this call, the Episcopal Church, including the Diocese of Southern Ohio, has adopted the “Becoming Beloved Community” initiative. We are committing ourselves to journey toward becoming beloved community as followers of Jesus over the course of the next year and beyond. 

Beloved Community is the practical image of the world we pray for when we say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are dreaming of communities where all people may experience dignity and abundant life, and see themselves and others as beloved children of God. We pray for communities that labor so that the flourishing of every person (and all creation) is seen as the hope of each. Conceived this way, Beloved Community provides a deeply faithful paradigm for transformation, formation, organizing, advocacy, and witness.

In this way, the Episcopal Church’s Becoming Beloved Community initiative represents not so much a set of programs as a journey, a set of interrelated commitments around which we as Episcopalians may organize our many efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers. It may be helpful to imagine a labyrinth. On the road to reconciliation and healing we move around corners and double back into quadrants we have indeed visited before, each time discovering a fresh revelation or challenge. The whole Episcopal Church is invited to participate in the Becoming Beloved Community journey. This work includes the four-fold path of Telling the Truth, Proclaiming the Dream, Repairing the Breach, and Practicing the Way of Love. Beloved Community is created as disciples of Jesus practice the way of love together. 

 The Episcopal Church is committed to growing circles of engagement, partnership and prayer across and beyond the Church, understanding that we are participating in a multistage journey toward transformation, justice and healing. While General Convention called for a vision and a church-wide initiative, it never said that vision would be the only one, nor did it say all the work of racial reconciliation, justice and healing should be organized at the church-wide level. We seek to draw Episcopalians and neighbors across many lands, languages and cultures to share stories, practices and transformative action. Together, we can share the journey and become instruments of the healing and reconciling love of Jesus, whose loving, liberating and life-giving way we follow.

More resources including seasonal study guides, and resources for individuals and congregations are available on The Episcopal Church website here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/beloved-community.

The Rev. Canon Jane Gersen serves as Missioner for Fresh Expressions and Praxis Communities in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Connect with Jane at jgerdsen@diosohio.org.