Pastoral Care and Connections Message

The death of Queen Elizabeth II nearly brought the United Kingdom to a halt as the population publicly and privately mourn their sovereign. Her 70-year reign is notable; her reputation, while rocky in the past, has been high in recent years, a testimony that memories are short, and forgiveness is generous. Tears are flowing even while King Charles III takes on his new role.

Yet, for millions around the world in the extended lands of the British Commonwealth, the Queen’s death, official mourning, and automatic succession of her heir, is a deeply painful reminder of a long history of oppression, carnage, and racial hierarchy bound in white privilege and patriarchy. For those still carrying the crushing impact of Colonialism, the pain is very much alive, made fresh by the barrage of symbols of a ruling monarchy.

For those of us living in a country that rejected the British Colonialists and their monarchy, how do we respond? Do we mourn the Queen’s death? Do we call out the horror of her and her ancestor’s aggressive decimation of entire populations? Our response needs to be free of romantic visions of pretty princesses and princes who serve as images of rescuers and Queens and Kings who lead with kindness and wisdom while the good, loving people live in prosperity.

As one local Carnegie Mellon professor learned via her painful Twitter testimony as a Nigerian (former British colony), the world is not ready for such cold-hearted reality checks. Before the cold slap of alternative truth, we choose grief; we choose the expression of personal and collective loss; we yearn to mourn. We see and affirm the tears are for the loss of this one woman who believed in her institution, warts and all.

And, yet, we cannot just move on once the tears have been shed. The tears are also for all that has been lost due to the power structures of her beloved institution that cruelly and inhumanly changed the course of world history over and over again. The tears are for what could have been, should have been, and will never be.

So yesterday in worship, I included Queen Elizabeth’s death in my prayer and for all who mourn her because mourning is what makes us human. And, today, as the day beacons a new British King, I pray that King Charles III may see beyond the tight bonds of institutional traditions and hear the cries of the people in the wider Commonwealth. Perhaps those cries, along with some in his immediate family, will guide him to be more human than King.

With Love and compassion, Rev. Kate

Care and Connections

Susan and Mark Whittaker are delighted to announce the birth of David Joseph “DJ” Shangraw on July 8, 2022. This is Susan’s daughter’s firstborn, a month early. Since he arrived early, he spent some time in the NICU at Magee-Women’s Hospital. After over a week in the NICU, “DJ” came home and has been thriving. He is gaining weight and is already >99th percentile for his length (his dad is 6’6″, so not surprising). This is Susan’s fifth grandchild. Mark is the step-granddad; he has two grandsons in Erie, PA. Didn’t expect an early arrival but so happy to see him in this world!

If you have joys or sorrows you would like to share with the community; please send them to Rev. Kate at