Reflections from Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton
Are We Listening? (June 2, 2020)
In times like this I miss the voice of historic leaders who found a way to brilliantly weave reality with prophecy, peace with justice, and love in the midst of times when it is so very easy to hate. One of those amazing, God-led leaders was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the midst of a context that created chaos and controversy, it was Dr. King who said, “Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.”
A Call to Prayer (May 28, 2020)
I can’t breathe. Those are the last words George Floyd used as four police officers pinned him by his neck on Monday evening, resulting in his death. They were also the last words spoken by Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man killed in New York City in 2014. These senseless acts of violence by police officers against unarmed Black men is intolerable and provide clear evidence that the racism I just spoke of over the weekend in relation to Ahmaud Arbery is deep and dangerous and unjust. I can’t breathe.
More Than One Pandemic: Reflections on Ahmaud Arbery (May 23, 2020)
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news. From medical advice to political implications to a gradual re-opening, these are the stories discussed each night in a thirty-minute newscast or a multi-page newspaper. It’s all about the virus. But tucked away in some of those broadcasts there is a video. It’s a tape of a young man running. His name is Ahmaud Arbery. He is running in a neighborhood near Brunswick, a small town in southeastern Georgia. It is the last time Ahmaud would run.
You Remain in My Prayers Everyday (May 22, 2020)
Today in his morning press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that another 105 New Yorkers died yesterday from the COVID-19 virus. Governor Ned Lamont announced yesterday that another 53 Connecticut residents died as well. In the last seven days alone, nearly 1,500 people who live within close proximity of our churches have died from this deadly virus. These facts alone reveal that we live in a region that cannot be compared with any other place in the country or world. What others are attempting to do in other regions would only result in increased infection, hardship and death if we were to try to do the same.
The State of the New York Annual Conference (May 8, 2020)
As we continue working our way through this pandemic, there are some clear realities still very much in play around us. The level of pain and death all around us is sobering. When you look at maps and projections, it is clear that we are at the epicenter. Within our context of life and ministry, we having to deal with the magnitude of this virus on a scale found nowhere else on planet earth. It has affected our families, friends, and local churches. It has highlighted injustices, people on the margins, and revealed the depth of systemic racism that has lessened the importance of certain individuals at the expense of the privileged who maintain control and power-- whether it is found in the safety of our homes or in the ability to stockpile food or to have access to services to keep us healthy.
An Easter Call to Worship, An Easter Call to Action (April 9, 2020)
Even as I write, I am compelled to change some of my standard greetings. Normally, I write something like, “I pray that each of you are well and blessed.” I cannot write that today because I am fully aware that some of you are not well. I write today expressing concern for the growing number of pastors, spouses, and laity who have contracted the COVID-19 virus. Our prayers are extended to you, in particular, with a hope that you will find healing as quick as possible. Today I write on the day after the largest single increase of death in New York and Connecticut. At this writing, nearly 6,000 people have died in our region. Every number represents a soul. With every number there is a grieving family or loved ones who need our intercession.