From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Episcopal Peace Fellowship award recognizes Margaret

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Thu, 7 Aug 2003 14:04:00 -0400


August 5, 2003

Episcopal Peace Fellowship award recognizes Margaret Lawrence

by Sharon Sheridan
Convention Daily 
[ENS] The church is poised to take another step in providing equality
for all God's people, but the struggle continues, Bishop Steven
Charleston told a crowd gathered at the Church of the Gethsemane to
honor recipients of Episcopal Peace Fellowship and The Witness awards.

Speaking on the eve of House of Deputies confirmation hearings on
Bishop-Elect Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, Charleston, the dean and
president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., predicted
success in one of the major battles facing the church: "on the question,
'Do we believe that all people are created equally in the image of

"We are about to succeed in a moment of that struggle, and many of us
would be proud that the answer that comes from this church is, 'Yes, we
take another step in believing that,'" he said in a keynote address
interrupted repeatedly by applause. 

"But pay attention. We succeeded with women, but the struggle continues.
... We said we had succeeded with people of color, and I submit to you
that the situation of men and women of color in our church is going
backward, not forward, and that there is a great deal yet to be done.

"So when we succeed for the gay and lesbian, bi[sexual] and
transgendered community, as we will," he said, "... let us recommit to
the coalition of unity among all people who have had to struggle. ...
The continuing struggle will only be won when we win it together and
prove the theology that we are all created in the image of God."

Charleston warned listeners to be wary of two other kinds of victories
our society claims.

"We think in this society that we have succeeded in winning victories,"
he said. "We're winning wars. Oh, it's just like the movies we used to
watch, ... when John Wayne would storm the beaches of Guadalcanal.

"What we are succeeding at doing is creating the mask of a patriotism
that covers the face of oppression," he said. "Beware your civil
liberties and civil rights."

Watch for a return of McCarthyism, he said. "Beware of the faces of the
enemies that they create for you" to distract us from growing poverty,
endemic racism and "many other issues we are ignoring to our peril in
order to maintain the fiction of an imperial state and to return to the
glory days of the white state."

Finally, he said, "We say that we are succeeding in spreading
Westernization around the world and that all the peoples of the world
are being more like us. God help us, and God help them."

What we're really achieving is the return of the "dreadful disease" of
colonialism, he said. "We are watching Africa die. We are watching war
reach into Asia and the Middle East." People in the southern part of our
hemisphere are treated merely as "expendable commodities," he said. 

"Beware. This homogenous single entity that is celebrated to us by the
multinational corps who run our governments have snatched our democracy
from us and left us with those pale and impotent political parties that
we still every two to four years go through the motions of pretending to
govern in our name."

Sayre award to Margaret Lawrence

Earlier in the program, EPF gave Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence its Sayre
award, named after a founding member of the U.S. branch of the
Fellowship of Reconciliation and a man instrumental in founding EPF in
1939. Presenter Janet Chisholm lauded Lawrence for her peacemaking
efforts and for representing both "hands" of nonviolence: that of
resistance and that of reconciliation.

President of the EPF executive board, Chisholm said she worshipped with
Lawrence in Rockland County, N.Y., and served with her in both EPF and
FOR. She recalled arriving early for a meeting and discovering Lawrence,
then in her 70s, standing on her head practicing yoga. During the last
Lambeth Conference in 1998, Lawrence, who turns 89 on Aug. 19, was the
oldest pilgrim among a group of peace activists who walked from London
to Canterbury.

"On Sundays, sometimes we have very violent psalms. And Margaret has
been known to stand up to say, 'Are you sure we should be paying
attention to this?'" she recounted. "Margaret is a person of great joy
and some mischief."

After summarizing Lawrence's many accomplishments, Chisholm said the
significant issue for conferring the Sayre award was "her journey as a
peacemaker and a speaker for justice.

"She has struggled against racism and sexism to be the accomplished
child psychiatrist that she is," Chisholm said. "All along the way, she
has acted nonviolently. She has served children and their families -
rich and poor, black and white, those who have been victimized in our
culture - and she's been an advocate for them."

During World War II, Lawrence and her late husband, Charles, who served
as president of the House of Deputies in the early 1970s, were known
pacifists. "St. Paul's where we worship now is known as the 'peace
parish' for their leadership," Chisholm said. 

Rockland County has two white parishes and the predominantly black St.
Paul's, "and St. Paul's is the one with the wealth," she said. While St.
Paul's easily could go off on its own instead of working
collaboratively, she said, Lawrence always has insisted: "We belong

That's been the story of her life and her witness, she said.

The Witness awards to four honorees

The Witness presented four awards: the Vida Scudder award to the Rev.
Barbara Ramnaraine for her work on behalf of people with disabilities;
the William Stringfellow award to Barbara Harris, first female bishop in
the Anglican Communion; the William Scarlett award to Voices in the
Wilderness for its peace missions to Iraq; and the William Spofford
award to Tom Goldtooth, national coordinator of the Indigenous
Environmental Network.

Presenter Elizabeth Kaeton, clergy deputy and former Oasis missioner
from the Diocese of Newark, lauded Ramnaraine as someone "whose vision
of social reformation includes a church which is fully accessible to
all, including those people with physical challenges and disabilities.

"It was an awakening for me to know that, of all the civil rights acts
in the country, the Americans With Disabilities Act is the only one in
which the church did not take an active role," she said. "And guess why?

A deacon at St. Paul's, Minneapolis, Ramnaraine was appointed to the
Presiding Bishop's Task Force on Accessibility in 1983 and has
coordinated the Episcopal Disability Network since 1992.

"I accept this award as one of the more than 49 million Americans with
disabilities who yearn for justice and equality," Ramnaraine said. "I
truly believe that, working together with God's help, we will experience
a church and a world in which there will be no outcast people."

"People with disabilities comprise the largest minority in this
country," she said, adding that 20 percent of Americans have
disabilities, but only 10 percent of church attenders do. Seventy
percent of people with disabilities are unemployed, even though
two-thirds can and wish to work, she said.

"Despite all the inequities, there is much to celebrate," she said.
"With a few exceptions, this has been a totally accessible General
Convention. ... With people with disabilities becoming more active in
the total church, I pray that we may receive the gifts that they offer
and joyfully welcome them into the fellowship of Christ."

Jane Dixon, former suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Washington and
president of Episcopal Church Publishing, introduced her sister bishop
Harris, calling her "my mentor and my friend."

"She has given her life to justice, to peace and to the honor and
dignity of every human being," she said. 

Dixon recalled meeting an African woman of color at a dinner given by
the Bishop of Durham while she was in England for the 1998 Lambeth
Conference. The woman took awhile to understand that Dixon, not her
husband, was a bishop. When Dixon informed her that a woman of color was
the communion's first female bishop, she said, "This woman looked at me,
and I really thought she had forgotten how to breathe.

"Her face lit up because the power of the incarnation was real for her
in a way that it had never been before," she said.

Harris recalled standing on the same platform at Gethsemane in 1976 for
a much less well-attended panel discussing racism in the church and
society. "Here we are, 27 years later, still wrestling with the
question," she said. "But at least we continue to wrestle, and I hope
that it is a good sign and that we will never say, 'Been there, done
that, bought the T-shirt.'"

Voices of the Wilderness "brings hope to part of the world where we
decided that we would bomb them into their freedom," said presenter John
Chane, bishop of the Diocese of Washington.

Since 1996, more than 80 U.S. delegations from all walks of life have
gone to Iraq to see firsthand the effects of sanctions, said Tom Walsh,
national media coordinator for the organization. "The purpose is to go
witness and then to come back and educate." 

An Iraq Peace Team maintains a continuing presence in Baghdad today, he

The group also provided humanitarian aid when possible, Walsh said,
noting the U. S. Treasury Department recently levied a $20,000 fine
against the group for delivering medical supplies to Iraq. 

Goldtooth, who heads a Minneapolis-based alliance of Native grassroots
groups and communities working on environmental issues, described
himself as "only the eyes and the ears of many indigenous peoples that
we work with."

"When they cannot be at a certain place, when we talk about these issues
that are truly life-and-death issues for our communities, our families
and our children and our elders, then I become a voice for those
people," he said.

The movement began 12 years ago when people of color and indigenous
peoples joined over the issue of environmental racism, in which their
communities were the first to be chosen to locate projects such as
toxic-waste sites and incinerators, he said. "We said that now is the
time for action, that we're coming together in solidarity to put a stop
to this, to educate, to organize our people back home and to educate
white America about what's going on, that we have to protect the
sacredness of our Mother Earth."

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