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Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I write to you today regarding two important matters.
The first is the decision of the Supreme Court this morning to overturn much of Arizona's controversial SB 1070 law. I was asked by Episcopal News Service for a comment, which I now share with you:
As one working and praying for a more just immigration policy, I was guardedly pleased with the Supreme Court ruling. Although much work still needs to be done to insure that law-abiding immigrants in our country are treated in a just and humane manner, the Supreme Court's decision to strike down much of SB 1070 as unconstitutional is a step in the right direction, though I wish that it had gone further. For example, the "show me your papers" provision of the law, which the Court left standing, still has enormous potential for racial profiling and other abuses. There is still much work that must be done to assure that all our immigration laws respect the dignity of every human being.
At this time, I am unaware if further demonstrations or press conferences are planned by church leaders, but I would expect that no one sees the struggle for human rights in Arizona to be over. No matter what your opinions are in this matter, I would ask that you keep in your prayers those of your fellow Arizona Episcopalians whose lives are affected on a daily basis by the struggle to find a just solution to this problem.
Secondly, as most of you know, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church will begin in one week in Indianapolis. The deputies will be facing tough decisions in a number of areas. At the top of this list are efforts to restructure the larger church in way that will refocus our energy and money on the mission of spreading the Gospel. For those of you interested in learning more about this, I commend to you the series of articles written by one of your own elected deputies, The Rev. Susan Snook, and posted on her blog site: goodandjoyfulthing.blogspot.com.
Other issues to be dealt with include changes in insurance and pension benefits for lay employees, liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex unions, and our relationship with the wider Anglican Communion. This will be a difficult convention. We are painfully aware of the decline in both membership and giving, and the failure of our current structures to adequately address these problems. There is a need for radical change and the abandonment of old programs and practices that no longer work. This will take both courage and sacrifice. Therefore, I especially ask you to remember the work of the General Convention in your personal prayers and in the public prayers of your parish these next two Sundays. You may either write your own prayers to include in the Prayers of the People or adapt the one provided by The Book of Common Prayer, p. 818.
Please also remember your lay and clerical deputies: Judy Conley (Trinity Cathedral), Matt Hall (St. Matthew's, Chandler), Barbara Harber (St. Luke's, Prescott), Diana Moreland (St. John's, Globe), Pat Thompson (St. George's, Holbrook), The Rev. Megan Castellan (NAU Canterbury), The Rev. John Kitagawa (St. Philip's in the Hills, Tucson), The Rev. Susan Snook (Church of the Nativity, Scottsdale), The Rev. Anne Johnson (St. John's, Williams), The Rev. Jim Fitzsimmons (St. Andrew's, Nogales), as well as our delegates to the Episcopal Church Women Triennial meeting: Marilyn Hedges, Winnie Follett, Connie Castillo, and Kerry Jo Hanstein. I will be honored and proud to be representing you as your bishop. Please pray for me, too!
--(The Rt. Rev.) Kirk Smith is Bishop of Arizona
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