By Richard Pryor III
On the same night that many entered Convocation Hall to listen to abortion advocate Wendy Davis speak, a smaller group of people spent their evening in the School of Theology’s Hamilton Hall as Heidi Kim, the Episcopal Church’s staff officer for racial reconciliation, gave a talk entitled “The Road to Reconciliation: The Role of the Church in Fostering Unity and Combating Hate.”
Kim’s talk, which discussed the prospects of “reconciliation in a time such as this,” as she said, began with the prayer for “In Times of Conflict” from the Book of Common Prayer, where the people ask God to “help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ.” Kim, remarking on our tendency of mocking the other side, pointed to the Book of Common Prayer’s Catechumenate (An Outline of the Faith), where it states that “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”
Kim talked extensively about her work at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota, where the Indigenous peoples protested the destruction of their land for the Dakota Access Pipeline. She shared a story about how many tribes, who had long histories of enmity, had to work together to save their land.
Other words of wisdom from Kim included a comment about the death penalty, stating that “If we know what we say we know, we should know that Dylan Roof [the Charleston shooter] is a beloved child of God.” Kim wrapped up with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., reminding all that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Kim’s words stood as a reminder to a Sewanee community that has seen hatred on our campus that there is a way for us to walk the road to reconciliation.
I think to describe Wendy Davis as an “abortion advocate” is extremely narrow and to have missed the point of her talk and much of her work and career. As is posted on her website, she advocates for “equal pay at work. Standing up for reproductive freedoms. Starting rape-prevention programs at our schools. Shutting down sexist talk. Voting.” In short, equal rights for women.
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