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Standing Together in Pain & Loss

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Dear Bowery Mission community,

The Bowery Mission stands daily with neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, hunger, and trauma, deepened by historical and ongoing systemic racism. We mourn with the Black community as we remember and bear witness to the killing of George Floyd and far too many others. Lives are at stake — lives that matter to God and to us.

For more than two months, the streets around The Bowery Mission’s Tribeca campus were quieter and emptier than usual — the result of social distancing, in the wake of the coronavirus.

Over the past few days, those same streets have filled with crowds of New Yorkers, bearing witness to racism — and the trauma it perpetuates.

The crowds bear witness to the way this racism destroys some (chanting, “I can’t breathe”) and is ignored by others (chanting, “Silence is violence”).

The crowds bear witness to the names of lives that matter — Black lives lost to violence in this season of great loss — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd.

This has been a season of great loss, and I know many of us are experiencing deep pain, grief, lament, and rage. And some of us are not experiencing these feelings in the same way. Racism and trauma do not affect our communities equally. At The Bowery Mission, we see these realities daily as we serve a community experiencing homelessness deepened by a legacy of systemic marginalization.

An Invitation:

One of my fundamental beliefs is that our God gathers us. It is not accidental that God has gathered this community around The Bowery Mission “for such a time as this.” God has chosen us to stand together during this season of loss. We are God’s gifts to one another — for this very season.

I have seen God draw us closer to one another in the past few weeks. As we have done essential work together — working on the front lines and supporting from home — I believe God is forging a new community for the next season of The Bowery Mission — forged in the fire of this pandemic.

With this in mind, I invite you to be a gift to one another in this season. I hope that we will be able to say to one another, “I need to talk about this,” and then gather willingly for honest conversations. I hope that we will listen deeply to one another. I hope that we will make safe spaces for one another’s grief, lament, and rage. I hope that we will uphold one another in prayer.

We are committed to working together to make sure The Bowery Mission is a place where our decision-making reflects our diversity and honors the lives of our staff, volunteers, clients and guests. We look forward to doing this work with you; it will take all of us.

Thank you for standing together, even in our unequal pain and loss.

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James Winans
President & CEO