June 18, 2020
Dear Calvary congregation and community:
On June 15, the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church adopted a Statement Affirming Calvary’s Commitment to Antiracism, as part of our congregation’s response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the understandable protests that have occurred since, and our nation’s need to address and heal from the systemic racism with which we have lived for so long. The statement is attached, and will be posted on Calvary’s website.
The statement ends with a commitment to act. This is both what we believe we as faithful Christians are called to do, and it allows us to live out Calvary’s behavioral covenant that our faith calls us to action, not merely to words. We propose that Calvary undertake educating ourselves about how we arrived at this place, how we can participate in dismantling systemic racism, and how we can become allies to our Black siblings. We hope the congregation will participate in a discussion of possible actions, some of which will be discussed at the meeting of Session on June 30. If you would like to be a part of this planning effort, please contact Joanne Whitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please continue to hold our nation, our City, and our congregation in your prayers as we move towards greater justice, healing, and reconciliation.
On behalf of the Session,
Rev. Joanne Whitt
Click image on left for pdf
of Session Statement.
A Statement Affirming Calvary’s Commitment to Antiracism
With hearts broken by the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and dozens of others known and unknown to us, the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church affirms that, because of our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, Calvary Presbyterian Church must stand against, speak against, and work against racism. Antiracist effort is not optional for Christians; it is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
While recognizing that racism victimizes many people of color, we acknowledge its unique impact on the Black community. Anti-Black racism is deeply embedded in the history, culture, and society of the United States. The original Constitution defined Black Americans as three-fifths of a person. The economic foundations of the United States were built on slave labor, introduced into America in 1619. Black men in America could not vote until after the Civil War. The Jim Crow legal system, redlining of neighborhoods, and many other laws and policies have perpetuated nationwide oppression of Black Americans. Today, anti-Black racism finds expression in mass incarceration, instances of police brutality, barriers to voting, economic and wealth inequality, and acts of race-based violence and hate.
We do not always live the basic Christian truth that, just as God loves all of us without exception, we are called to love all people. Our choice to align ourselves with love requires that we actively and tirelessly work against anti-Black racism wherever we can, however we can.
A commitment to confronting anti-Black racism reflects Calvary’s values statement. First, it expresses our commitment to inclusivity: “We are all children of God. We proclaim that all are one family in Christ and seek to live like we mean it.” Second, it affirms our commitment to justice: “We challenge ourselves to see systems and structures that disadvantage and oppress others – that stand in the way of God’s kingdom coming ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ and are willing to take part in seeking solutions.”
Calvary Presbyterian Church, and all Christians, must recommit to the struggle for racial justice. We are one in Christ: if others are in pain, we are in pain. Churches must provide a moral compass for the nation by helping to shape public policies and shift our institutions in a way that will move the nation towards justice, peace, and reconciliation.
We recommit to recognizing and dismantling racism and unconscious bias in our own hearts and minds, in the institution of the church, and in the broader culture. We will take action toward these goals.
Adopted by the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church
June 15, 2020