… the pure glory of God … is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.
—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
If only we would see it. The events of the past year laid bare the cruelty wrought by our continual failure to acknowledge God in every human being. Love one another, Jesus said. But we have not.
When the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, we let out a collective sigh of relief because some measure of accountability was achieved. But we could not celebrate because there is no justice in the actions that brought us to this point, nor in the systems that sustain racism. As long as our sisters and brothers live in fear, none of us is truly free.
This month brings the Day of Pentecost, when we celebrate God's gift of the Holy Spirit and renew our call to do God's will on earth. As an agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Board of Pensions shares in this missional calling to holy work and in the hope that we can model justice within our system of benefits and care.
The Board does have "blind spots," as Kelly Riley, Executive Vice President of our Plan Operations, said recently in talking about our determination to root out inequities in our program structures and service delivery. The work Kelly is leading is just one part of our larger outreach effort to better serve communities in the Church that have traditionally been marginalized, unseen and not heard.
This year, we made our Assistance Program accessible to more people — including ministers, mainly through the addition of Minister's Choice. This financial protection package for ministers gives access to grants and programs previously available only through Pastor's Participation.
Every year, we serve thousands of people through our educational opportunities and wellness events. But, as the Reverend Dr. José Irizarry, our Vice President of Education has said, "some constituencies are not being served as well as others." José is leading efforts in his area to ensure that all Benefits Plan members, and potential members, know all that is available to them and how to get to it.
Supporting ministers is critical to building leadership for the future of the PC(USA) as presbyteries plant churches and cultivate new ministries. The Board contributes by supporting pastoral leadership through programs such as Pathways to Renewal and Benefits Grants for Organizing Pastors and Evangelists.
The Church and this agency are doing Kingdom work. Pentecost reminds us that we are empowered, through the Holy Spirit, to see "the pure glory of God" in everyone. May we continue to use that power to ensure that every year we renew our commitment to justice.
Grace and peace,
The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer