Blessing a Modern Icon

August 19, 2020
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On Sunday, Aug. 16, the Rev. Mike Angell blessed an original icon representing Mary and the Christ. He wrote this reflection about the reaction that blessing and the icon is receiving:


by the Rev. Mike Angell, Rector
Holy Communion Episcopal Church, University City

"Mama" was written after the death of George Floyd by local iconographer Kelly Latimore. (The iconographer was inspired in part by Floyd's cries for "mama.") Kelly offered the original up for a donation to a local non-profit working for systemic racism. Just last week, he contacted me to let me know he had selected Holy Communion among many bidders. In exchange for a $500 contribution to ArchCity Defenders, we would become the permanent home for the original icon.

Yesterday, when images appeared on social media of the blessing, a small group of folks from beyond our congregation started responding with vitriol. Racist responses appeared alongside words like "heresy" and "blasphemy." We quickly reported, deleted, and screened those comments. But the congregation and our friends responded too. Dozens of comments poured in talking about this "historic acquisition" and saying "We are all image-bearers, in our beautiful diversity." 

This congregation circled around a new representation of Mary and the Christ. I was proud. I was proud as well that so many folks took part of their Saturday to participate in our Trans 101 training with Metro Trans Umbrella Group. If you missed the training live, an archive is available (link below). We are a church that stands up to say, we are all made in God's image. We are committed to becoming "Beloved Community." Representation matters. Making love incarnate matters. Thank you.

Video below: Watch the blessing as part of Holy Communion's Morning Prayer service on Sunday, Aug. 16. The blessing begins at 50:24 in the service.


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