Why We Honor Bishop Royster –
And Welcome You To Honor & to Learn
On Sunday, May 21, at Mishkan Shalom synagogue in Philadelphia, The Shalom Center is honoring Bishop Dwayne D. Royster along with Bill McKibben and Sophia Wilansky. The celebration of these three is also a crucial fund-raising event to support The Shalom Center’s work, and we are inviting our members and friends to take part in order to learn, to celebrate, and to help make The Shalom Center’s work possible.
Who is Bishop Royster, and what is The Shalom Center’s connection with him?
Bishop Royster’s work is rooted in the Spirit. He founded and served as pastor of the Living Water United Church of Christ in Philadelphia. The UCC is perhaps the most vigorously progressive of the large Protestant churches in the United States. At the same time, Bishop Royster serves as the Assistant Presiding Bishop of Higher Ground Christian Fellowship International.
He stands and walks with one foot in the best of mainstream Protestantism, one foot in a more fluid network of Christian seekers – and his whole body in the great tradition of eloquent Black ministers committed to grow an America of justice and Beloved Community.
Out of this commitment, Bishop Royster founded POWER -- Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild. POWER brought together churches, synagogues, and mosques to support community organizing efforts toward justice and a living wage for Philadelphia workers; an effectively budgeted and democratically controlled public school system; and deep reforms of the criminal-justice system to end its racism in police behavior and in mass incarceration.
You might say these issues are the obvious ones for any urban justice movement. Then Bishop Royster took the un-obvious step of connecting jobs for the disemployed with creating transformative solutions for the climate crisis. He encouraged POWER to work with the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) to demand that Philadelphia’s electric company train Black disemployed workers as solar-collector installers and begin a major program to solarize the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the city.
As he moved from the Philadelphia scene to the national one, and from Philadelphia to Washington DC, Bishop Royster said,
“My faith has been equally important to me -- longer than politics. It has been a hard decision to leave POWER and head to DC. Yet, I am feeling called to our nation’s capital for such a time as this.
“As the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman asked in his book Jesus and the Disinherited, ‘What does our faith have to say to people with their backs up against the wall?’ For far too long the church has been a sleeping giant. It is time to ‘Wake Up!’
“We must work to challenge the narratives and stories that have anesthetized our faith traditions into a dreamless slumber that does not even produce rest. We do not need a sleeping giant, but instead a massive army of faith people that calls this nation to its better self. A massive army that draws our faith communities out of the walls of their institutions and to care for the greater community that surrounds them, a call to care for all of God’s creation.’
“So I head to Washington to be a faith warrior, to fight for a moral economy, to fight for racial justice, to fight for an end to mass incarceration, to fight for a pathway to citizenship, to fight for climate and environmental justice and to fight for issues yet to be named.”
Does this sound like a “prophetic voice,” like the one we at The Shalom Center strive to be?
On May 21, Bishop Royster will bring his insight, his eloquence, and his skills as organizer into a conversation with Bill McKibben and Sophia Wilansky. We urge you to come and learn, come and grow, come and help The Shalom Center keep growing into an ever deeper, fuller prophetic voice.
And if you are too far away to come, please contribute through the Tribute Book. (See below.)
Three aspects of the event are:
DINNER: where registrants will be able to meet each other and our three honorees, 5-7pm. Click here to Register Now!<https://theshalomcenter.org/civicrm/event/register?id=17&reset=1>
HONOR EVENT: A shared conversation in which the three honorees will talk with each other and other attendees, in Mishkan’s sanctuary, 7-9 pm. Click here -- to Register Now!
Space is available in the nation-wide tribute book to publicize your community and/ or offer tribute to the honorees or to The Shalom Center. To publish in the tribute book, click here:
We look forward to welcoming you on May 21.