Tag Archives: #blacklivesmatter

Presbyterian advocacy group issues challenge to ‘raise our collective voice’

From the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns calls church to action

Press Release | ACREC

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) calls the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to embody what it has confessed, “that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others. Therefore, we reject any ideology which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.”
– Belhar Confession

People of color in the U.S. are being killed by police in disproportionate numbers because of the color of their skin, their race, and ethnicity. We condemn and lament the continued and routine killing of unarmed people of color particularly African American men and call for full investigations in the police killings of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Tyre King in Columbus, Ohio.

People of color in the U.S. live under surveillance, the threat of deportation, and constant systemic violence. We are alarmed by the Obama administration’s continuing pattern of deportation and family separation. We are alarmed by the ways in which police and ordinary citizens are deputized, formally and informally, to perpetuate this culture of surveillance and violence. We are alarmed by the persistence of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic rhetoric and policy proposals abounding in the current presidential campaign.

People of color in the U.S. are being attacked and criminalized for their courageous stands against police violence, greed, environmental injustice, and treaty violations. We condemn the use of militarized private contractors to remove the Native Americans encamped at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers seeking to stop the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens water, earth, and indigenous sacred spaces.

People of color in the U.S. are reminded daily in explicit and implicit ways of the hold white supremacy has over the soul of this nation. White supremacy; as a church we must say it. It is white supremacy that lies at the root of the systemic violence that kills, suffocates the life, limits the mobility, and creates the logic for the policing and detention of people of color in the United States.

Given this reality, ACREC calls the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to leave the comfort of their buildings to put their bodies on the line as co-conspirators in a movement for transformation, to stand for reparative justice instead of cheap reconciliation, to join communities of resistance, declaring that all people are created by God which means uttering without equivocation that Black Lives Matter!

We call the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to support the efforts of those gathered at Standing Rock to protect the water, the land, and the generations of people whose lives are threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline expansion.

We call the teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to not just lament and pray for change but to challenge the members of their congregation to acknowledge and confess our participation in systems of oppression and to lead them to work for justice in and outside of the church.

We call the ruling elders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to exercise their spiritual and ecclesiastical leadership by creating and formulating ways for their congregation to engage in actions – economic and programmatic – that interrupt white supremacy.

ACREC strongly encourages the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and all of its members to join the mobilization of 5,000 prayers and/or actions around the world calling for water rights, clean air, and the restoration of the earth and its peoples by participating in the International Days of Prayer and Action with Standing Rock (October 8-11, 2016).

ACREC also strongly encourages the congregations and mid-councils of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to support the newly established Freedom Rising Fund created as a result of an action taken by the 222nd General Assembly (2016). This fund will support specific actions, “not just in word, but also in deed, to address and improve the worsening plight of the African American male.” Congregations and mid-councils are asked to direct a portion of the Peace and Global Witness Offering to this fund.

Finally, we urge our church and all of its members, especially those who are white, to join us in breaking silence. Commit with us to raise our collective voice not just to proclaim the good news of God’s grace but to call out injustice, to call out the forces that threaten to tear us apart with xenophobic, racist, and Islamophobic rhetoric. May we have the courage.

Buddy Monahan (Chair, ACREC)
Thomas Priest Jr.(Vice Chair, ACREC)

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The Five Things I need from White People Right Now

Derrick Weston states what he needs from me and other white people after the killing of Terence Crutcher, one of too many black people killed by police.

derricklweston

Another day, another unarmed black man dead. Terence Crutcher’s SUV stalled as he was coming back from community college classes. He was studying music appreciation and was very active in his church choir. Seeing his picture reminds me of any number of big dudes I know who can sing their lungs out. From his view in a helicopter, a Tulsa police officer thought he looked like a bad dude. Instead of trying to help the man with the stalled car, two officers made him put his hands up as he approached them for help. As he reached into his SUV, probably to grab some form of identification, which again, should not have been necessary because he was the one in distress, he was tased and then shot. He was unarmed. He was the father of four.

I feel like ranting and raving about how angry and scared this makes me…

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Live toward the dream

On December 24, 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Though no one realized it at the time, it would be the last Christmas Eve sermon he would preach. Just over three months later, he would be dead—another prophet murdered by those who believed that killing the dreamer would kill the dream.

His sermon that night echoed the famous words he spoke during the March on Washington. “I still have a dream.” Dr. King identified the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism” as the interlocking realities that violate God’s intention and deny the image of God within the human family. His dream pointed to the day when the triplets are overcome and transformed. It contained a vision of racial justice and equality, expressed a vision of poverty overcome and people working and fed, and looked toward the day when peace would reign around the world.

The dream had been tempered since 1963. Indeed, the Rev. King had seen it turn into a nightmare on various occasions and various ways. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham claimed the lives of four little girls and scared souls and psyches across the country. The poverty of the African-American community in the midst of America’s prosperity haunted Dr. King. The inability of the country to address effectively that poverty further tested the dream, as did the riots to which people resorted in response to the poverty. The escalating war in Vietnam—a war that consumed lives and resources and placed America on the “wrong side of a world revolution”—was yet another nightmare that challenged the Rev. King.

But after all of that, in spite of all of that, Dr. King affirmed again and again, “I still have a dream.” These are not the words of the false prophets who proclaim peace when it is clear peace is lacking. They are the words of a man who has faced hate and horror, violence and injustice and who refuses to allow them to have the final word. They are the words of a man who sees beyond what is to another reality. He knows the worst, and still he says, “I have a dream.”

How can he say that? He can because in the end, it is not his dream. It is not the Rev. King’s dream. The dream belongs to God. Dr. King is the prophet who has been grasped by God’s vision and who can do no other than to articulate that vision and live that vision.

Listen to how he expresses the dream:

“I still have a dream today that one day war will come to an end, that men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, that nations will no longer rise up against nations, neither will they study war any more. I still have a dream today that one day the lamb and the lion will lie down together and [all] will sit under [their] own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. I still have a dream today that one day every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill will be made low, the rough places will be made smooth and the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

Grasped by God’s vision, the Rev. King persevered. He stands in that long line of God’s servants who faced the worst life could bring with a full awareness of how bad that worst could be and who continued to follow Jesus Christ, proclaim good news, live for peace, and work for justice.

We can join that number. We too live in troubled, troubling times. We have come a significant way on the journey to racial justice. A long way remains ahead of us.

The deaths of black and brown people at the hands of the police and the failure of the justice system to indict officers lead many to affirm that #BlackLivesMatter. Racism remains embedded in the structures and systems of our society as revealed in much of the rhetoric, and in some cases the behavior, related to the debate over immigration policy. The U.S. imprisons people of color, particularly men, at an alarming rate leading Michelle Alexander to describe this mass incarceration as The New Jim Crow.

Economic disparities persist. The gap between rich and poor is growing. The economic divide between whites and people of color, particularly when measured in terms of wealth, remains wide.

Some thirty armed conflicts are taking place around the world. The United States has troops involved in a number of the conflicts.Groups and individuals turn to terror and violence to enforce their view and to seize resources.  Resources that could provide health care, support schools, rebuild infrastructure, and more are spent on war and making weapons for war.

And still with Martin, we can dream. For the dream was not Martin’s. It is not ours. The dream is God’s. And God’s dream is more real than all the reality we daily experience. God’s dream sustains us. God’s dream challenges us. God’s dream invites us out of ourselves, out of cynicism, out of pain, out of systemic injustice. God’s dream asks us to believe, to follow, and to live toward that “day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward [all]. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together, and the [children] of God will shout for joy.”

Dream on! And live toward the dream.

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