Diversity and Love
“We are called not to be comfortable but to comfort. We are called to love,” said Sandra T. Montes during a recent diversity training session with your Nominating Committee.
“What do you see when you look at me? Where am I from? What is my native language,” she challenged committee members not to make assumptions when meeting someone for the first time but to take the time to listen and get to know that person and then act in love.
Our diocesan Standing Committee recruited Montes, who is dean of chapel at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and is a nationally known speaker, singer, and writer on the need for the Episcopal Church to be more open and inclusive.
She brought the Nominating Committee her message of the need for authentic relationships and basing our faith in love, as commanded by Christ Jesus.
During the training, committee members were given exercises that helped us understand how we individually see the world and the people around us. That exploration opened new doors with honest discussion among committee members, a step that will help us as we review applications for bishop coadjutor and listen to the Holy Spirit.
In an article about Sandra Montes written by Heather Beasley Doyle for the Episcopal News Service, Doyle writes ‘Church Publishing recently released (Montes’) first book, Becoming REAL and Thriving in Ministry. Written in Spanish and English, the book posits that people can foster inclusivity and individual ministry through Relationships, Excellence, Authenticity, and Love. This framework is a critical step on the path toward racial reconciliation.’
In the article, Doyle quotes Montes as saying, “How can we live a more fulfilling life? We have to start with relationships. Nothing is going to change in the church, the world if we don’t start with relationship building. Because if I have a relationship with you, I’m going to care what happens to you. I feel like that’s why there’s so much hatred and so much violence because groups of people aren’t important to us.
“From there, we have to be excellent in what we do—not perfect, but excellent. In the book, I include a lot of questions for you to ask yourself or as a group. And then, of course to be authentic. And everything needs to be in love if we call ourselves Christians and followers of Jesus. Love is hard for some people to talk about, but it’s also very important. We don’t have to talk about Jesus to talk about love. I need you; you need me; we need each other. If we’re going to get to racial reconciliation, we’ve got to go through this first.”
As your Nominating Committee moves forward in our process to find a bishop coadjutor, we will walk in love and relationship, and be open to where God wants to take our diocese.