Dear People of God in The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon:
I write to you now with a deep prayer in my soul for peace and good will in the United States of America and especially in the good city of Portland Oregon. We are all aware of the largely peaceful protests that have been going on in Portland these past months to call for changes in how we keep the peace in Portland and especially in how black and brown individuals are treated by law enforcement. Change is needed, and I pray for those who are engaging these issues. We are also all aware of the presence of federal law enforcement personnel who are here without an invitation from our Mayor or Governor. These forces are, by most accounts, not helpful and it is my belief that they should leave. I support our Mayor and others who are calling for their removal.
I have not spoken publicly about this much as of yet mostly because I believe that I and others in the white community need to be doing more listening that talking and more supporting of others whose voices need to be heard. In the Diocese of Oregon we need to be listening to the voices of those Episcopalians who have been a part of this struggle for years such as the people and clergy, past and present, of St. Phillip the Deacon Episcopal Church. I have also pointed to the voices of the Black community and asked that they be listened to and that we take their critique of our city and state to heart. I have signed on to statements by larger groups of which I am apart such as Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and The Common Table. I invite you to read those statements as you consider your own choices about what you will support and how you will act.
I am also very proud of the laity and clergy of the Diocese of Oregon who have worked so hard over the last few months to keep us safe from the COVID-19 virus while also providing ways to continue to gather for prayer and worship. That some of them are also involved in the peaceful protests now going on in Portland also makes me proud. This is important work and I continue to keep all involved in my prayers.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his letter from Birmingham Jail: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. At this time it is important to be on the side of justice and for me that side is with those who are peacefully protesting a great and longstanding injustice.
Episcopal Bishop of Oregon