I am writing this as a pastoral and prophetic word as one who is called to lead our community in our common witness to proclaim the Gospel in season and out and to encourage our members to raise up their important voice in pursuit of becoming a vital part of the Beloved Community.
For some time now, I have been searching for the best words to express a helpful and coherent response to the dangerous and polarizing rhetoric that has run rampant in our country and culture…
Two years ago, the Synod of the Northeast partnered with two very different congregations in a project we called “Undoing Racism.” The original partners were the Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church, an historic a African American congregation in Harlem, New York, and First Presbyterian Church in Morristown, NJ, an historic, majority white congregation. Recently this initiative has included the First Presbyterian Church in Rutherford, NJ as well.
These congregations have made deep and lasting covenants to learn, worship, and fellowship together in order to undo the bonds of racism. It was my privilege to share the Word with these saints last Sunday, June 3rd. Here is the sermon and a few photos of this beautiful event…
As with many of you, I have become weary and sad at the constant flow of hateful speech and racist rhetoric from our president and his followers. The daily barrage of these words, and devastating actions that follow them, leaves me exhausted and wondering how to best use my public voice in ways that don’t simply add to the constant flood of exchanges around them.
This morning as I rise from morning prayer there is a fire in my bones that I cannot quench. It rises from the deepest part of my spirit and compels me to speak a word that makes it clear that there are regular episodes of our current president’s behavior that are undeniably immoral and contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
Our emotions fill a wide range, from weeping and deep grief to strident anger. We continue to search for meaningful ways to respond to what we know to be a deep and devastating dysfunction throughout our nation and within our local communities. Calls come looking for ways to mobilize the witness of our regional Presbyterian community to respond to what has clearly become an epidemic of racial violence. Our Synod community has been engaged in the hard work of addressing the racial brokenness of our larger communities and the lust for weapons that seems to only be escalating.
East Syracuse, NY: As an act of racial reconciliation, the Synod of the Northeast will clear $175,000 of debt for the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church during their 175th anniversary celebration, scheduled for Sunday, November 15, 2015. This one-time grant is in response to the ecclesiastical lynching of the Rev. William Robeson in 1901, who was pastor of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church and was outspoken in his advocacy for racial justice. The Rev. William Robeson is the father of Paul Robeson.
June 19, 2015 The Synod of the Northeast PCUSA Leadership and Mission Teams lift in prayer all those suffering in the aftermath of the murders of our African American brothers and sisters in Charleston, SC.
The Synod of the Northeast Mission and Ministry Commission meets next week. We vow to develop an action plan to continue the work we have begun with others in response to the racism, hatred and sanctioning of violence that gave rise to the act of terror that occurred in Charleston this week. Our mourning must give way to acts that show we are truly one in Christ with those who have died and those who are suffering the aftershocks of terror and trauma. It is our actions rather than our words alone that will bring about God's will of justice and peace. In the meantime, we offer the following prayer. Please click here to read more.