On June 3, in response to the unrest in response to the killing of George Floyd, Head of School Karl Sjolund sent the following message to SAS alumni, students, families, and friends:
Dear SAS Community,
I hope this message finds you safe and well. Of course, between COVID-19, an economy that’s alarmingly unpredictable, and a long-overdue national conversation about racial justice that is being drowned out by inflammatory rhetoric and violence, that is a hope I can no longer assume. Depending on who you are and where you live, there is a very real chance that you are not feeling safe and well, and that is my reason for writing to you today. I want you to remember that your SAS family is here for you.
As I watch the images on television this week, from images of George Floyd being murdered in Minneapolis to the voices of righteous anger being overshadowed by even more violence, it is hard not to get discouraged. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stated in his Pentecost sermon from the Washington National Cathedral, “This past week, we have not only had to endure a pandemic occasioned by a virus … we've had to endure and face a spiritual pandemic. The roots of self-centeredness where one person can look upon another person and despise and reject them, and not even behold them as a fellow child of God.” Instead of talking about the issues, we end up yelling at one another. We must do better.
I read an open letter from a fellow head of school this week who said, “small communities like ours will figure out how to create fair, equitable, and just societies long before nations will.” He is correct. The SAS Mission Statement affirms the notion of our being an inclusive Christian community in which the Episcopal heritage is central. It is our goal to bring all members of the community to a richer spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, and aesthetic awareness so that they might lead lives of honor and loving service to God and to others. We can only achieve this worthy goal by listening for understanding and empathizing with those whose life experiences are different from our own. Our Episcopal heritage values inclusiveness rooted in the belief that God loves each one of us both immeasurably and equally. If we keep that conviction front and center, then we are constantly reminded to strive to do better and to love all people – even those with whom we disagree. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Until we are able to gather once again in person, throw our arms around one another, and boldly say, “YOU belong here,” I hope you will reach out if you need someone to talk with or pray with or if you just need a voice of love and encouragement. I and my colleagues welcome the opportunity to continue to work with you in offering healing love to a wounded world.
Karl J. Sjolund
Head of School