November marks my 4th year at the Advocate and we are finally entering into the conversation I anticipated we would have to have sooner rather than later. This conversation was not delayed for anyway other reason than we had to be made ready for it. And now we are. If you've been following this ministry, even at a glance, over the past couple of years you will know that it has been a time of movement. And thank God most of this movement has been forward! The social outreach arm of the Advocate has gotten more robust as we've played upon our historical strengths--hospitality, culture engagement and education. That was necessary because we had to ground our work with a stable infrastructure to gain the freedom to dream. It has taken the might and will of a dedicated staff who kept pushing the boulder uphill against the mischievous 'gremlins' of the Advocate. It has taken the support of the Diocese of Pennsylvania as well as other partners near and far. It has taken the dedication of a congregation that does not know how to quit. It has taken much preparatory work but here we are.
And where are we? We are at the place where we can begin exploring the Advocate identity. I reflected upon this need in a paper published in 2014 (Being the Advocate) and so I am very excited to begin this exploration. I hope I am beginning it with you, our family and friends who know and love the Advocate in a way I have yet to fully discover her. I also hope that those new to this incredible place will offer the gift of their insight as well. Together I would like for us to know that Advocate as she will become and not just as she has been. A tall order that will respect the past but continues to look forward to the future. So we begin.
On Sunday November 15th following the 10 am service Dr. Wende Marshall will lead us in a conversation of James Cone's article Black Theology and American Religion. Even as much as the Advocate is a part of the Episcopal church, an historically white denomination, she has at least, since the ministry of Paul Washington, actively straddled that fence of these two realities. And she has decidedly lived into her Blackness. No question about it. But what that is exactly has not always been easily defined or commonly understood.
I think this is going to be an interesting, insightful and enriching journey. It should also be fun. Are you coming along for the ride? If you'd like a copy of Cone's article send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org