Reflections on the Truro Institute from the Rector of Truro Church
Last month, we celebrated the launch of the new Truro Institute whose mission is to inspire Americans to love the other as other. One of the Institute’s foci is to help facilitate racial healing. The parish and the Institute are distinct entities, but their concerns and mission will often overlap. There was a noticeable overlap at our inaugural event. Allow me to elaborate.
The Inaugural speakers were Dr. Jacqueline Rivers and her husband, the Rev. Eugene Rivers. They spoke on the crisis of the black family and shared their life story as one response to that crisis. After graduating from Harvard, they lived and ministered for over three decades among the poor in Dorchester, MA, a suburb of Boston afflicted by crime and gang activity. It has been a miracle story of sorts, covered by magazines as diverse as The Economist and Christianity Today. They are national treasures.
As much as I admire their accomplishments, this alone is not why I invited them to Truro. I invited them because they have helped me to see that the plight of the black family is also our problem. Fifty years ago, Senator Moynihan wrote his report, “Crisis of the Negro Family,” when the out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks was at 30% (it is now at 70%). That same statistic is now true of white America. The black family is a leading indicator of where we are going as a nation – a veritable “canary in the coal mine.”
I have learned that the greatest social, moral and spiritual issue facing our country is the state of marriage and the family. There is no close second. Thus, Elizabeth and I have joined a cadre of marriage missionaries who are willing to humble ourselves at the feet of those who can teach us about this multi-faceted issue. We are willing to be offended. We are willing to be shocked. What we are not willing to be is complacent or defensive. We are grateful that the Institute provides a platform to inform many who were unaware of this crucial moment. We hope some members of Truro will sense God’s call to join us.
Here is another important realization: the Roman Catholic and Black Pentecostal Churches are two strong pillars holding the family together. The Rivers are a bridge between those two pillars, and they have invited us to join them in this bridge-building work. They believe Truro has a unique role to play in this collaboration, one that can bridge many divides and bring greater peace to our shattered society.
Over the next several months, the Truro Institute Board will need to consider where we will house the Institute and our Fellows who come to spend nine months in formation. Ideally, we need to place them in a context that challenges them to practice immediately what they read and discuss. In short, the Institute needs to model peacemaking in places where the community suffers from a lack of peace. One area where the Truro Institute can make an immediate and lasting impact is by bringing together Pentecostal and Catholics, Black and White Christians, in the generational work of restoring a marriage/peace culture to impoverished families of any race. This will not be the only aim of the Institute, but it is a great place to begin our work of “inspiring Americans to love the other as other.” In the weeks ahead, I will explain the steps we are taking to make this vision a reality (Proverbs 29:18).
Your brother in Christ,
The Rev. Tory K. Baucum