Bishop's Special Edition

Statement on the Shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

October 28th, 2018

Dear Ones,
As we gathered for the second day of the 108th Convention of the Diocese of Olympia in SeaTac, the news began to come that yet again, gun violence had taken the lives of innocent people, and yet again, inside a house of worship. We now know that the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the United States. We know that the killer had as his motive, simply, "I just want to kill Jews."

There is absolutely no place for violence in our discourse. The attack on that synagogue is an attack on all people of faith. It cannot be accepted and it should not become common place, or even tolerated. We cannot become numb to this reality. If the rhetoric and tenor of our collective life keeps heading the direction it is now, similar horrors will come to all our doorsteps.

Ironically, just a few days ago, Rabbi Daniel Wiener of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, sent out this Civic Covenant: Principles Unite us for Change from Faith United. I hope you will read it. We need it now more than ever.

At our convention, which had as its theme "This is Us: Looking Back, Moving Forward". I began with a quote from Gary Wills book, Certain Trumpets, a book on leadership and followership. In his introduction he says, "Show me your leader, and you have bared your soul." I am worried about our collective soul. I believe this may be something we might agree on - across the political and even theological divides - the fear for our collective soul, and yet we too often continue to demonize across those lines, blame, and incite. It needs to stop. To believe that the heated rhetoric, the call for violence, the just "punch them in the face" language coming from our leaders does not echo out into a world where people listen, and then act, is to be about as tone deaf as one could be. This can't be had both ways. Words are important. You can't call for violence as a solution one day, and then condemn it the next. Despite what it may seem, I am not blaming any one person. You and I are part of this. We share in what our leaders do, who they are, how we respond. Indeed, one of the themes of my address was the power of followership. It is not passive, we do have power. We need more responsibility and more leadership. I pray that people of faith, regardless of where they stand on the spectrum of theology, ideology, politics, or any others, can come together on this request. Tone it down. Realize that lives are at stake in how we lead, in what we say, in how we act. Speak out more, no matter where you are politically, and especially when our leaders, from any party, speak of violence and hate.

I encourage you to attend the many vigils that will take place, to offer them in your houses of worship, to most assuredly pray, but more than that, to act. Act to demand a change to the rhetoric, act by not joining in it, act by standing in solidarity with Jews, Muslims, Christians, and indeed with all humanity, as we are called to by our faith, and was modeled by our Savior and Lord, Jesus. As one banner flying in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill read, "Love Thy Neighbor: No Exceptions." There are certainly those who do not, and will not heed this commandment, but I believe there are far more that believe it is true, people of faith, and otherwise. Let's join with them to save our soul.

Here is the link to Temple De Hirsch Sinai, statement and invitation.

Here is a link to the statement by Shoulder to Shoulder is a group of 34 religious denominations and organizations committed to standing with American Muslims to uphold American values.

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Affirming Our Support for Transgender Persons

October 23rd, 2018

Dear Ones,
On Monday of this week, it came to light that the United States Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to redefine the legal definition of sex as "either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with," under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program that receives government assistance. This would remove essential federal recognition and civil rights protections from an estimated 1.4 million Americans who are transgender or gender-nonconforming. This is but the latest assault on the protections and civil rights for those within the transgender community.

In light of this ongoing attempt to erase transgender individuals from our nation's common life, it is important - now, more than ever - to reaffirm our support for transgender persons. We believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. While we may not have always gotten things right, we are continually striving towards greater justice and inclusivity. In the Episcopal Church and here, in the Diocese of Olympia, we believe that transgender persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church. Across the Episcopal Church, we prohibit discrimination against transgender persons in both hiring decisions and in the ordination process. In fact, it has been my privilege to ordain several transgender clergypersons right here within our diocese.

If you are a transgender individual and feel unseen, unheard, attacked, or pushed aside by the actions our government is taking, I want to let you know that we in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Olympia stand beside you. We see you. We hear you. And we support and celebrate you.

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Contact Info
The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel Bishop of Olympia
1551 10th Ave E
Seattle, Washington 98102
206-325-4631 FAX

LINK TO: Bishop Rickel's website

Across The Diocese




Saint George Episcopal Church

24219 Witte Road S.E.

P.O. Box 510

Maple Valley, WA  98038  

(425) 432-5481 

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