In the past few weeks the engines of racism in our country and our community have once again been dragged out into the light of day by violent actions against people of color and those who support the cause of justice.
This can be a turbid time, trying to draw together many threads, binging on news items, fervent prayer, and perhaps feeling at a loss of what kinds of action to take. It's conceivable you feel as though some ask that we wield a scalpel while others diagnose that the whole leg must be taken. In the weeks following, we are sure that there will be continued conversations, high emotions, loving actions, and deep theological implications as our pastors and ministry leaders seek to guide their people along the path of God’s true Love and Righteousness.
The recent events, most notably the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers, are acts directly opposed to God's work in our world. Every person is called by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the will of God to actively engage against these events and the system that has spawned and protects them. As the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, has said, “No longer can we hide behind not being controversial.”
Our communities desperately need our churches, especially those in the center, close to the protests and statuary that has become the focal point of emotion and energy, to speak out. God's people need us to speak out loudly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that preaches our nurture and support of the unheard and the injured. Our communities need to hear our voices, and see our faces, as we bear witness to our faith. If we are to remain relevant centers of faith, hope, and love, all of our faith communities, but especially those churches that were originally built with the funds from the work of slaves and the slave industry, need to speak out. Our communities need to hear your voice.
As the prophet Micah reminds us, we are to “do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.” Part of our humility may be to admit that we have waited in silence too long. Or that we have erred in our reactions to the protests. Or that we simply don’t know where to go from here. If so, it is our hope that you will see this invitation as your call to create voice through video or sound file, organize your congregations and staff, and preach on the Justice of Christ not from a position of our privilege but from a listening voice of those who are in pain. And we are here to help in that.
This is a work that we all must do. The Good News is that you do not go into it alone. Not only is our presbytery here to support each church and ministry, the Dismantling Racism Ministry is here as your ally and support through negotiating the waters of institutional racism. Included in this letter are links to just a few things that may help as you consider where and how your church will engage with the racism that affects all of us. Know that our purpose group remains to walk along this path, committed to creating a new narrative of life in the midst of these events of death and persecution.
Please reach out to us with questions, or prayer, or your witness.
Grace and Peace go with you,
Members of the Dismantling Racism Ministry
Resources to begin or continue your journey
Walking the Path of Gospel Truth: A POJ Study on Building Beloved Community Intro (PDF, 244 KB) Contact Dismantling Racism Ministry to receive the full study copy
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II - reaction to recent violence
Transforming Historical Harms (PDF, 1 MB)
Union Seminary Online Forum (Tuesday, June 9)
As always, the POJ Dismantling Racism page has other links, studies, and ways to keep in touch.