Here in Phoenix we had a reassuringly large gathering of people from the city, diocese and community at an afternoon prayer vigil for the Victims of Racism. There were hundreds of people (who came at one time or another during the vigil) who participated.
We offered prayers for Judy and Walter Conley (members of the Cathedral community), whose home was vandalized late last year in a Hate Crime attack. They were supported by members of the Union of Black Episcopalians who participated in the service along with other members of the Diocese and community by reading prayers, scriptures and excerpts from the speeches of Dr. King. Musicians from the Cathedral provided music at quarter hour intervals during the vigil and we ended by singing “We Shall Overcome” in a call and response format.
We had Bishop Kirk Smith remind us of the Episcopal Church’s and the Diocese of Arizona’s commitment to working to end the sin behavior of racism. The Rev. Canon Angela Ifill, Head of the Dept. of Black Ministry for the Episcopal Church made a special trip to join with us and to serve as our featured speaker. She read a letter from the Presiding Bishop addressed to those gathered and which showed special pastoral concern for Judy and Walter and what they had to recently endure.
There were a number of reporters and we had good television coverage as well. Hopefully this has been a chance for the Episcopal Church to publicly proclaim in Phoenix its efforts to both repent of its own racism and to work to aid all those in the world who suffer from racist attacks and actions.
I’ll try to get some pictures of the event posted online somewhere later this week. Thanks to all of you who wrote earlier with suggestions of resources. The service that we constructed out them was very well received.