Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Episode 41: The Gift of Multiplicity of Expression with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol Gallagher
Today our guest is the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol Gallagher, Regional Canon for the Central Region of the Diocese of Massachusetts. Previously, Bishop Gallagher served as the assistant bishop of the Diocese of Montana, where she developed a close relationship with Indigenous leaders and communities, trained clergy and lay leaders on issues of race, gender, and inclusion, and led the Task Force on Native Issues. Before Montana, Bishop Gallagher served as the assistant bishop in the Diocese of North Dakota, Diocese of Newark, and Diocese of Southern Virginia. Developing strong relationships with Native tribes and communities, as well as educating Episcopal communities on the significance of the intersection of race, culture, gender, and class, has been a focus of her ministry for a long time.
Bishop Gallagher is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She has served on numerous committees, task forces, and boards, including the Episcopal Church Council on Indian Ministries, the Anglican Indigenous Network, Anglican Peace with Justice Concerns, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Episcopal Divinity School Board of Trustees and the United Way of America National Board, to name a few.
Alli sits with Bishop Gallagher while she was visiting New Haven, CT as a keynote speaker at Yale Divinity School for “Fully Native Fully Christian: Converging Rivers and Indigenous Canons” conference. Bishop Gallagher’s father was a Presbyterian minister, and her mother was a Cherokee woman. Bishop Gallagher tells Alli about her call to ministry from a young age and the significance of her consecration as the first female native bishop.
Bishop Gallagher discusses the relationship of The Episcopal Church and Indigenous communities, stating that the relationship ebbs and flows depending on who is in leadership within the church. In her ministry, she has traveled around the country to train lay leaders within Indigenous communities as a way to empower all individuals in the church. Bishop Gallagher shares a story that has really stuck with her in her work with native people. When she was traveling in New Zealand she learned the importance of “making things your own” from the Maori people.
She shares ways to get involved and empower local Indigenous communities, from visiting the Mashantucket Pequot Museum to learning about the local communities’ history, and truly listening to stories of native peoples.
Within her current work in Massachusetts, Bishop Gallagher shares that she works closely with parishes and clergy in transition. One thing that is exciting in the next year, 2020, will be the 400 anniversary of the landing on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Bishop Gallagher plans to work with the community in Plymouth, the Wampanoags, and Indigenous folks in Virginia to better understand the complexities of the story and how the church participated - both helpful and destructive and everything in-between.
This work has been both a spiritual blessing and challenge for Bishop Gallagher. She refers to it as a balancing act, but God has always provided. Bishop Gallagher shares that the conference she is at, which brought her to New Haven at Yale Divinity School, is helping to form a community on the East Coast for Native folks within the church.
To close, she asks for prayer for the church to be open and to embrace the multiplicity of expression as a gift.
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