I write to announce a second Diocesan Big Read, beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, December 2nd, 2018, and ending on Pentecost, June 9, 2019.  During those months we will read the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles together.  This Big Read is part of a larger theme for the coming year, Becoming Beloved Community.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has asked us “as congregations and individuals who are together the Episcopal Church of the Jesus Movement to intentionally, purposely, and liturgically rededicate ourselves to the way of Jesus, the work of racial reconciliation, the work of healing and dismantling everything that wounds and divides us, the work of becoming God’s Beloved Community.”  Reading the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles will help us to further this work through study, and many other initiatives of the diocese will help us to further this work through acts of justice and mercy.

The church is in a period of profound change as we find ourselves engaged in an exodus from the power and privilege that we once enjoyed at the center of American society.  We could spend our days fighting against our loss of privilege, or we could learn to surrender it gracefully, knowing, as people of the cross, that we are guaranteed a startling and unexpected resurrection.  In the days after Jesus’s own resurrection and ascension, the leaders of the nascent church found themselves asking some deeply important questions.  How could they cultivate a community that would remain true to Jesus’s teaching?  How would they negotiate their interactions with the cultures that surrounded them, many of which seemed very hostile?  How would they further the Christian formation of catachumates and the newly baptized, and help them to set aside all of the old cultural presumptions so that they could be new people living a new faith?  The apostles struggled with these questions, sometimes answering them well and sometimes answering them poorly.  In this moment, we find ourselves asking the same questions, and we look to the guidance of the early church.  We don’t ask the early church to answer these questions for us, but we do ask our forerunners to model how to ask these questions well.

As with our Big Read of the Book of Exodus in 2017-2018, we hope that every individual will read Luke/Acts and at least one supplementary book to help with understanding.  We hope that every parish will hold at least three adult forums about these scriptures.  We’re hoping that fifteen minutes will be set aside for the study of Luke or Acts every time a vestry, committee, or commission meets.  And we’re hoping that you come to the Luke/Acts Colloquium.

We hope that you will join us as we strive to Become Beloved Community in the diocese, in our individual parishes, and in our personal relationships.

Becoming Beloved Community invites us to grow together as people who love God and love the image of God that we find in our neighbors, in ourselves, and in creation.