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The Episcopal Church is a bastion of white privilege and wealth and segregation — one that will rapidly decline if new ways are not found to lead it into becoming the body of Christ, Boston priest and emergent church leader Stephanie Spellers told a capacity congregation at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day service at the Cathedral Center on Jan. 15.

Stephanie Spellers delivers her sermon at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day service at the Cathedral Center on Jan. 15. Photo/Janet Kawamoto

“If we are going to embody God’s life in the world, and that is our call — hear me, that is our call — we’re only going to get there together, as one mutually interdependent transfigured body of Christ,” said Spellers. “And for that, we’ve got to move. We’ve got to move from segregation to integration — to mutual transformation. Are you ready for that journey?”

Cautioning that integration should not mean assimilation, Spellers said that the way forward for the church “is the way of transformation. And it is time … for black Episcopalians to take our place as agents of that new way. Because this Episcopal Church barely knows how to function beyond the bounds of domination and assimilation. It knows next to nothing about networks of mutuality. But we do. There’s so many gifts of blackness that the Episcopal Church doesn’t even know it needs. But God knows.”

Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce celebrated the Eucharist at the gathering, which also featured music by the Episcopal Chorale and children from St. Timothy’s School in Compton.

For more of Spellers’ sermon, see Just Action video here.

Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce, center left, assisted by Stephanie Spellers, left, Deacon Margaret McCauley, center right, and children from St. Timothy’s Episcopal School, Compton, blesses the congregation at the conclusion of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Jan. 15 at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul. Photo/Janet Kawamoto