Dear sisters and brothers,
Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
This past weekend we were front row spectators to the very face of evil as white supremacists, neo-Nazis and “alt-right” gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia. Once again this country’s centuries-old sin emerged from the fringes of society and leapt to the front page of newspapers, the screens of our televisions and electronic devices and conversations in our gatherings.
Racism, we were reminded, is alive and well and thriving.
Not since 1963 when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail expressing his deep sorrow and disappointment in US clergy for not uniting their voices in the struggle for civil rights, has the call to Christians been clearer. There is no place for hatred, racism or white supremacy, especially by those who dare to identify as followers of Jesus Christ. We must be resolute, clear and united in this message.
Our recently adopted Confession of Belhar writes, “We believe that any teaching which attempts to legitimate such forced separation by appeal to the gospel, and is not prepared to venture on the road of obedience and reconciliation, but rather, out of prejudice, fear, selfishness and unbelief, denies in advance the reconciling power of the gospel, must be considered ideology and false doctrine.”
The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, where this confession came from, learned that the work of facing and naming evil, speaking truth to power and beginning the work of undoing institutional racism begins with us, the church. We need to examine how we have been complicit in maintaining structures that provide privilege for some but not all, how we have allowed the Gospel to be co-opted by those who espouse racist ideologies, how we have kept silent when our voices could be living water.
This is not about being political. This is about being faithful.
The Presbytery of Seattle is sponsoring the Crossroads Anti-Racism Training on Saturday, September 23. (Update: Registration deadline extended to September 10.) It has been completely underwritten in the hope that at least half of our churches will participate. We cannot pass up this opportunity to begin the challenging task of facing evil head on, and do this as the body of Christ. But I need you at this event.
Let’s learn how to talk about the sin of racism.
Let’s together live the faith we profess.