God's Open House

A Statement on Racial Violence and Police Brutality from the Session

We believe…that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged” Confession of Belhar

First Presbyterian Church joins with the nation in heartbreak and outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury and so many others. We lament our nation’s long history of racial violence and police brutality, and we repent of our collective and personal failures to meaningfully address the systems of oppression that have stolen the life, liberty and happiness from so many of God’s children. Racism is a sin that has ripped apart our communities for far too long. We join our tears with millions who are heartbroken, and we lift our hands together in working for a better world.

We remember that our Lord suffered oppression, rejection, police brutality, and even death on a cross. His life and death reveal that sharing in someone’s pain lifts it into love of neighbor. In taking up our crosses, we are called to join in Christ’s liberation, standing in solidarity with all who suffer.  Loving our neighbors means listening to and standing with people of color across the world demanding justice and equality. We cannot continue in a society that is peaceful to some and violently oppressive to others.

In response to this pattern of violence and oppression against God’s children, we commit ourselves to dismantling the sin of racism in ourselves, each other, and the world. Following Matthew 7:3, we must begin by looking at ourselves in the mirror, committing ourselves to eradicating our own internal racism and the oppressive structures we participate in and support. But we know that words and study cannot undo what hundreds of years of racist policies, structure, and power have wrought. So we call on ourselves and each other to join in the work of demanding equality for all from our elected and appointed officials and in our workplaces, schools, and everywhere we live.

Isaiah offers us a vision of what our work in the world should look like:

“You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”

We have much to do to repair the breaches in our nation, and to restore our streets so that all may live in peace and dignity. God promises this restoration to us in Revelation, painting a picture of the holy city, where “mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Rev. 21:4). But, in the words of civil rights activist Ella Baker, “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

In Christ,

The Session of First Presbyterian Church