An Open Letter to Kevin Wright of Bend, Oregon’s City Church

Dear Kevin…

I am a social documentary and fine art photographer who, after living in San Francisco for ten years, moved to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. For 2-1/2 years I chronicled the myriad of challenges and recovery efforts as well as documented the variety of communities that make New Orleans such a beautiful and wonderfully unique city; being a place endowed with culture, heritage, spirituality, and a troubled history.

Well, the other night I heard you being interviewed on Dick Gordon’s “The Story” on WAMU. Afterward, both pleasantly surprised and very curious, I found myself visiting the City Church website.

Before I say anything else, I would like to say “Thank You!” Though I am neither a religious person nor do I desire to be, I found your message to be a breath of fresh air. It was thoughtful, conscious, compassionate, inspiring, and frankly, courageous. This threw me for a loop, because I often find myself frustrated with the fearful, ignorant, servile, self-centered, righteous, pushy, intolerant, and willfully apocalyptic greater Evangelical movement. In my mind, your words and actions are infinitely closer to what Jesus would have wished from those who follow His Word.

Secondly, I would like to ask you if, someday, you and your congregation might be interested in me coming to visit your church to document your services, your community, your contributions, and your example. All that I ask is that I am not targeted as a potential soul to be saved. I would rather be treated as an ally and with kindness: recognized for my contributions and respected for my curious and questioning nature. So, though I have no desire to become a Christian, nor do I wish to be an advocate for Christianity or any other belief system, I recognize how important and meaningful it is for some people to have a moral and ethical framework so as to give a person a sense of guidance, belonging, identity, purpose, and greater understanding. And from what I’ve both read and heard, the mission of your church is one that I greatly admire and respect, inspiring a message that seeks to enhance a participant’s awareness and understanding, participation and contribution, while offering one’s service to heal and ease another’s suffering.

With that said, I invite you to visit my online gallery to see the work that I’ve done in New Orleans and beyond. But with regard to “the beyond”, if you have difficulty looking at images that may be contrary to your beliefs, I urge you to proceed with caution. Because besides being a photojournalist, I am an artist, an agnostic, and a liberal activist. So, though I make a point to provoke thought, challenge our society’s assumptions, and shed light on the oft unknown, I always attempt to chronicle my subjects honestly while highlighting their humanity and preserving their dignity.

The link to the best of my New Orleans’ imagery may be found here

Anyhow, thanks again for having the courage to be positively affective, blaze your own trail, and share your story with the greater American public. I am certain that your thoughtful message will be very well received by many Evangelicals and other Christians alike, as well as by those who follow other faiths, or no faith at all.

Stay true to your path. I look forward to hearing your thoughts or suggestions.

My very best,

:) Craig Morse

2 responses to “An Open Letter to Kevin Wright of Bend, Oregon’s City Church

  1. chrissiwright

    Hey there! I’m Kevin Wright’s wife, Chrissi. Thank you for your heart and the beautiful work you do here to tell the stories of so many through your photos. We would love to have you and engage with you more. We have been through so much and words like yours are like salve to our hearts.

  2. Thank you too for getting back to me so quickly… I very much appreciate your sentiments and am very thankful for your recognition of my work.

    I plan to visit Oregon sometime toward the end of this summer because I’m considering a move to Portland. Though I have to admit, I am torn. This is because Northern New Mexico too has been singing to me for a very long time.

    If you and Kevin are available when I visit Oregon, I would very much enjoy meeting you both. Prior to this, however, I would like to discuss — either by email or over the phone — how we may be able to work together so that I am able to visually communicate an accurate account of you both, your church, and your congregation that I hope will be inspiring to many. And believe me… I have no doubt that it will inspire. In fact, I would like for this project to culminate as a beautiful photographic book and gallery show, demonstrating how, in this otherwise divisive era, the word of Jesus can be transformed into compassionate, meaningful, and affective action. I too would like for such a project to act as a conduit from where people of differing faiths and belief systems may begin to build bridges and perhaps consider adopting a similar approach to serving their fellow human.

    However, before we take another step, I encourage you both to take another hour or so to further explore my gallery and discuss this proposal. I ask this of you because — though I consider myself to be an altruist who wishes to use my talents for good — I want you both to be aware of and feel comfortable with the range of work that I have done and will continue to do as an artist. Additionally, I wouldn’t want our collaboration to garner more heartache or dissent from either your present or former congregation, nor from other Christians. With that said, honesty and transparency is my policy…

    So, take a few days to think about what I am suggesting, then feel free to drop me a note. From there I can answer any questions you may have, and we can decide whether or not to put this idea into action.


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