Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs Jr. addressed the 181st Diocesan Convention Oct. 24, speaking to the convention theme of “Waters of Reconciliation: Race Relations and Diversity.”
“I stand before you today as a sinner among sinners; in need of the flowing waters of reconciliation and saved only by the grace of our loving God. I stand before you today to declare what we all know: this world in which we live is broken and hurting and in desperate need of those same flowing waters and God’s saving grace,” he said to open his remarks. “And, I stand before you today and submit that this world most certainly needs us to authentically love our neighbor and respect their human dignity.”
The 10th bishop of the diocese noted he previously made a point one on the specific issue of recognizing human dignity nine years earlier at convention, asking if we give an appropriate response to an inappropriate situation.
“What is our reaction when we hear a joke that derides another race, ethnicity, gender or someone’s sexual orientation? What is our response when we become aware that a female coworker is being paid less to do the same job as a male coworker? If you are Caucasian, how do you react when someone confronts you about your privilege? If you are a person of color, what is your first response that comes to mind when you hear someone say, ‘I’m not a racist, some of my best friends are black’,” the bishop said.
He also touched on issues relating to society, such as responsible gun ownership. He reiterated he has no desire for anyone to ban handguns; instead, he is on the side of responsible use.
“I am not an advocate of diminishing the freedoms of the Second Amendment; however, I am an advocate of honoring the rights, freedoms and dignity of all people so that guns and gun violence do not destroy the freedoms of others,” he said. “I particularly do not support and will not condone the concealed carry of guns in churches of this diocese, period.”
This was met by a lengthy ovation from the convention delegates and guests.