“Beloved Community” is a community, a nation, and a world in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. popularized the term during his lifetime of activism and imbued it with new meaning, fueled by his faith that such a community was, in fact, possible. But King always acknowledged that realizing Beloved Community would involve systems of law, education, infrastructure, health care, and municipal reform — no one sector, much less one person, could create it in isolation.
Christian communities, as do all religious faiths and traditions, have a big part to play in the bringing about of Beloved Community. Jesus laid out the most basic Christian teaching of all when the young man asked him, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus told him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40). The Beloved Community is the body within which all people can grow to love God and love the image of God that we find in our neighbors, in ourselves, and in creation. It provides a positive, theological, and Bible based ideal that orients the work of racial healing, reconciliation, and justice.
In May 2017, the Episcopal Church published “Becoming Beloved Community” – our church’s vision for long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice. The plan, designed for both individual and congregational use, represents not so much a set of programs as a journey, a set of interrelated commitments around which Episcopalians may organize our many efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow as a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers. The vision set our church on a course, understood at the outset to be a relational and life-long pursuit that engages multi-generations.