The greatest city in America” by James Cridland is licensed under CC By 2.0

Baltimore – the Greatest City in America

As I drove from St. Mary’s Seminary to my favorite restaurant on Loch Raven Boulevard, I saw a bench that announced this truth. I have held that sentiment since arriving in Baltimore, Maryland in 1988 to begin seminary studies. It was in Baltimore that I learned to confront my own racial bias and white privilege. It was there that I experienced firsthand the structures of systemic poverty, racism, and injustice that permeate our country. It was there that I discovered how our criminal justice system was biased against black and brown people. And it was in inner city Baltimore at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, a predominantly African-American congregation, where I felt more deeply loved by a Christian community than I ever had before–and my own calling to ministry took shape. Since graduating, I have returned to Baltimore at least annually, and today I traveled there once again to seek wisdom in St. Mary’s chapel and gave thanks to God for that great city.

I have come to know and love Baltimore and many of the wonderful people who call the city their home. So I was stunned, outraged, and appalled when our president singled out Rep. Elijah Cummings, calling his district a “rodent infested mess.” This rant is a continuation of attacks against brown and black people that has headlined our news for too long.

I join with leaders around the country, the church, and in our local communities and beg that this insanity cease. I implore us all to collectively turn our hearts and focus on solutions to the systemic problems that surround us, and find ways to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

I am reminded that the heart of Jesus’ ministry was time spent with ordinary people–truly listening to them, and speaking truth about the most pressing issues of the time. I believe we are called to do the same in our communities. We need to hear from each other‘s hearts, acknowledge and confront our own biases, and have difficult conversations with each other. As I’ve said many times before, the only way forward is together.

Let us find new ways to walk with one another in Christ’s love.

The Rt. Rev. Kevin D. Nichols
Bishop of Bethlehem