Grace Church in New York

The Weekly Epistle

Dear Friends,

One of the unexpected outcomes of the pandemic is that meetings are easier to arrange and attend. Now that nearly every gathering occurs on Zoom, many of our standard reasons for being unable to participate are of less import: subway delays, traffic, weather, or even being out of town. These days rushing from one thing to the next usually entails simply ending one video conferencing session and joining another.

So it has been with the Sunday Forum at Grace Church, our weekly adult education opportunity that precedes the 11 am service. Attendance has been terrific as people have tuned in from all over the city, state, and even country. You don’t have to rush through your Sunday morning and hustle to be here by 10 am in order to join the conversation. Many participants go right from the Forum to the livestream broadcast of the service. Others have managed to join the Forum on their phones, and then be here in person to worship. Recently we hosted a four-week series on an important book that the entire Diocese of New York is reading together: How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. Below you can read more about an upcoming webinar that you are invited to attend.

This week we are beginning a new series that the Adult Education Committee and I hope will be helpful to us in the weeks leading up to the November election. My view of the Sunday Forum is that it should offer a different experience than the sermon. A preacher delivering a sermon stands “six feet above contradiction.” In other words, it is not intended to be an open exchange of ideas, but rather, a proclamation of good news that the preacher has heard from God through the Scriptures. Thus, delving into partisan politics from the pulpit is to take unfair advantage. Doing so usually alienates the very people one might want to influence. But this is not to say that we, as Christians, should avoid squarely addressing the topics of concern that are roiling our society. We need to talk about these things and try to see them through the lens of our faith. The Sunday Forum is one place to do so.

This week we are encouraging everyone to read a chapter from parishioner John Avlon’s book, Washington’s Farewell. The chapter is entitled “Virtue and Religion,” and explores how our first President understood the important interplay between faith and politics. Read the chapter and join in the conversation. Below you will find more information about the upcoming series.

See you in church – and on Zoom. No excuses!

The Rev. J. Donald Waring