At our annual denominational gathering last week, the Presbyterian Church in America took steps toward addressing the sin of racism in its history as a predominately southern church. You can read more about this important moment here and here. This is the text of the resolution adopted last week:
Resolution on Racial Reconciliation
Adopted by the GA in Mobile, Alabama on June 23, 2016
Therefore be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17); and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and
Be it further resolved, that the General Assembly urges the congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America to make this resolution known to their members in order that they may prayerfully confess their own racial sins as led by the Spirit and strive towards racial reconciliation for the advancement of the gospel, the love of Christ, and the glory of God; and
Be it further resolved, that the 44th General Assembly call the attention of churches and presbyteries to the pastoral letter contained in Overture 55 as an example of how a presbytery might provide shepherding leadership for its churches toward racial reconciliation * ; and
Be it finally resolved, that the 44th General Assembly remind the churches and presbyteries of the PCA that BCO 31-2 and 38-1 provide potent and readily available means for dealing with ones who have sinned or continue to sin.
Additional Resolution Adopted by the GA in Mobile, Alabama
Therefore be it resolved that the 44th General Assembly
1. Authorize the Moderator to appoint a Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation study committee, comprised of multiple ethnicities, with ruling elder participation, that would use available resources and consult knowledgeable persons, in order to:
a. Assess the current situation in the PCA concerning racial and ethnic reconciliation;
b. Identify specific problems the PCA needs to address to promote racial reconciliation and ethnic diversity;
c. Develop constructive guidelines and suggest concrete steps for the use of the PCA, including all presbyteries and sessions, in order to make progress toward the work of racial reconciliation;
d. The Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation Study Committee shall report to the 45th General Assembly;
e. Set the budget for the study committee at $15,000/year and that funds be derived from gifts to the Administrative Committee designated for that purpose.
2. Recognizing the particular circumstances that exist at the local level, the 44th General Assembly urges each presbytery and session to form similar study committees to consider how to make progress toward racial reconciliation within their context.