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“Moving from Royal Dignity to Courageous Action”

Annual Meeting of the ECW of the Diocese of Southwest Florida

Celebrating 50 Years of Stepping Out in Faith (11/14/2020)

In times like these we need a Savior In times like these we need an anchor Be very sure, be very sure Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock that is Jesus!

Greetings Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, and all our special guests. As you surely know by now, I am the Very Rev. Kim L. Coleman. It is a pleasure to come to you from the Diocese of Virginia where the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff serves as Ecclesiastical Authority and I serve as the Chaplain for the Diocesan ECW and Dean of the Arlington Region. I also bring you greetings from the National Union of Black Episcopalians whom I serve as president.

I am thrilled with this opportunity to join you in celebrating 50 years of stepping out in faith. For this privilege, I thank your president, Leila Mizer, the planning committee that gave its assent, and your bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith. Thank you for your gracious invitation.

Today is about equipping you for what lies ahead. As I prepared for this day, I found myself returning to the ECW prayer, in particular to the line that reads “Let us not forget the lessons from the past nor fear the challenges of the future.” Now I’m sure if I asked this gathering right now to name the challenges we face we would not find ourselves searching for words. The challenges are many and they are daunting.

A global Coronavirus pandemic that has opened our eyes to the fact that we are vulnerable, subject to the whims of an invisible and deadly enemy that we can’t figure out how to contain and/or control.

A four-hundred year old enemy that keeps rearing its ugly head just when we believe we have conquered it, that national pandemic we know as systemic racism. For some, another invisible enemy that we struggle to see. For others, a daily combatant that refuses to relinquish hold despite the damage that it inflicts, the denial of dignity it imposes and our persistent efforts to eradicate it.

Then there is the extreme polarization of this nation. We are living in a house divided, separated in ways that cannot be resolved merely by the outcome of an election.

And yet we are the Church. We are the women who have formed the backbone of communities of faith since Mary Magdalene first carried the gospel message to the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. We are the people God has called to be ambassadors for Christ, reconciling people with God and with one another. You’ve said it yourselves in the ECW vision for this Diocese – for all women of the Diocese to become a vibrant blend of all ages, coming together as a peacemaking, healing part of the Episcopal Church. Even now, we have this job of healing and reconciliation to do.

But where are we women to find the wisdom and insight that equips us to do the work God has given? To whom can we turn for those lessons of the past that we should not forget, lessons that are relevant for what we are experiencing right now?

Well, we do not have time to conduct an exhaustive survey of all the likely women of biblical and historical import that have something valuable to teach us. But one particular biblical character comes to mind who has a story that we ought not miss when it comes to engaging the brokenness and injustice God is insisting that we now confront. Her name is Esther, and her story is found in the Old Testament book that bears the same name. We will be using as a focal text, Esther chapter 4, verse 14: For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

After a word of prayer, I invite us to join in examining Queen Esther’s life for lessons on how to move from royal dignity to courageous action. Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, as pilgrims of eternity, we stand before you.

Let us not seek to deaden the desire for you which disturbs our hearts.

Let us rather yield ourselves to its constraints and go where it leads us.

Give us the courage to make sacrifices, to yield our past to you and our future.

Then use us, gracious God, to be bearers of freedom to slaves and prisoners, and joy to broken hearts. In Christ’s name we do pray. Amen.

The seminar presentation continues in video format and can be accessed by clicking on screen below.


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