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The Point Where the Church and the World Touch ... Reflection for October 3

posted Oct 8, 2014, 12:49 PM by Parish Administrator   [ updated Oct 8, 2014, 12:51 PM ]

This past Tuesday was the 25th anniversary of the death of Bishop John Walker, who served the Diocese of Washington as Bishop

Suffragan, Bishop Coadjutor, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, and the first African-American Diocesan Bishop of Washington from 1977 to 1989, when he died following heart surgery at the young age of 64.


In her blog on our Diocesan web page, our current Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde wrote recently about Bishop Walker's significance:  "In 1977 John Thomas Walker addressed the Diocese of Washington as he prepared to assume leadership as Diocesan Bishop. ... In his address, he highlighted the pressing issues of his time, issues that reverberate into our own: racial and economic disparities and their social consequences; changing family and relationship patterns; political and social unrest throughout the world; and the human cry for peace drowned out by the weapons of war. Life inside congregations forty years ago was also contentious, to say the least, with changes in worship and leadership prompting rigorous debate and in some places, great conflict."


"My purpose," he said, "is to look at the point where the Church and the world touch, to see if we can discover what the mission of the Church is--what it can and should be during these next ten years." "The Church, like its Lord, must stand firmly at this point and address the issues of the day, not necessarily as having solutions, but as a body of concerned people who together with other citizens, seek solutions to the larger problems of our time. ... Christians cannot afford the luxury of exclusivism. If we are to be taken seriously in proclaiming the Kingdom, then we must support the search for answers. And if it moves us into controversial waters, then we must walk with our brothers and sisters so long as the means employed are consonant with our faith."


As Bishop Mariann continued: "Everywhere I go in the Diocese, the fruits of Bishop Walker's legacy abound, as well as in the world he knew to be at the heart of Jesus's concern. ... He was pastorally engaged throughout the Diocese, passionate about education, committed to interfaith work and witness, and so clear on matters of social justice, not merely with words but also in deed and relationships. Especially in these last months, when concerns of the world press on every side and the racial/economic divides that he spent his life bridging remain, I have asked myself more than once, "What would John Walker do? What he would say?"  Maria Walker, John's wife, called the Diocesan office last week to remind us September 30 marks the 25th anniversary of John's death. "Might we invite the congregations to hold John's name in prayer that day?" she asked. Yes, indeed, and we must. And I propose that we do more than pray."


And so we say "thank you" to John Walker and to the church that called him to serve; and as we hold his memory in prayer, let us decide what more we are called to do in our time in the spirit with which he served God and his neighbor.