Dear friends in New Hope Presbytery,
Last weekend was a difficult time in the life of our nation. We witnessed the reality of bigotry and racism from white supremacists that tears the fabric of our unity as a nation. Yet, we have seen it before, we have heard it all too often: encounters where, because of one’s color, a child of God is valued as less than a whole individual and therefore does not deserve equal rights. In the most recent edition of Christian Century, publisher Peter Marty shared the story that one member of his group experienced while attending worship at a mega-church. During the worship service two of the youth, one white, one black, turned around to exchange Christ’s peace. A church member standing before them greeted the white girl warmly. She took one look at the black girl, rolled her eyes in disgust, and turned away. In Charlottesville the protest grew violent. And the most devastating incident occurred when a child of God, a young woman, was killed by someone who, in a rage of anger, rammed his car into the crowd.
As the people of God we must acknowledge our own prejudices when it comes to racism, and then, through the power of the Spirit, be advocates of change for a more just and equal world, a world where all people, no matter what the color of their skin may be, are valued and loved as the children of God. We need to remember the mandate of Jesus, “To love our neighbor” and in so doing remember that neighbor does not just mean the person next door. In that same article, Marty writes, “Our U.S. Constitution enshrined the idea that African slaves were only three-fifths of a person for the purposes of legislative representation. It’s clear we have a ways to go before that fraction becomes a whole number in everyday life.” And so the task is before us to call out discrimination when we see it, to act justly, to love mercy as we walk humbly with our Lord. (Micah 6:8).
As we work toward that end, I invite you to hold the date of September 26 on your calendar. Last spring a number of clergy gathered to read the book Waking Up White. These participants are extending an invitation to all who are able to join them for a visit to the History of Racism exhibit at the Natural Museum of Science in Raleigh. Afterward there will be a dinnertime conversation. Learn more or sign up here.
Our synod stated clerk, the Rev. Warren Lesane, offers a challenge for Presbyterians to embrace in the days to come. It includes but is not limited to the following:
- That Presbyterians take seriously the gift of unity and work judiciously to denounce racism, white supremacy, and the evil acts of hate groups.
- That Presbyteries assist their leadership and congregations to engage in the substantive work of race and reconciliation.
- That Presbyterians recommit themselves to ecumenical and interfaith work.
- That Presbyterians join in advocating for legislative policies that guard against such hatred and provide protection for those the hatred is targeting.
- That Presbyterians work for peace and unity in the places where they live.
- That Presbyterians pray without ceasing.
May we, through the Grace of God, the Love of Christ, and the Power of the Holy Spirit, work toward the day when no one is the victim of hatred, remembering that all are precious in God’s sight.