September 24, 2020
On September 21 at the Session’s Stated Meeting, your Ruling Elders unanimously endorsed and approved Andrew’s letter to the congregation that is shared below. The actions Andrew describes below are all important steps to be taken:
- Prayer worship with Mt Zion and prayer partners
- Many ongoing educational opportunities to all ages
- Claiming racism in our liturgy and asking for forgiveness
- Working with the Youth Development Center, Benevolence Farm and Habitat for Humanity
Andrew and your Session welcome input about other steps we can take to further our Anti-Racism work.
Clerk of Session
I write with a follow-up to the anti-racism stance adopted by session on August 17. First, a word about this word, anti-racism. Anti-racism recognizes the reality of injustice against people of color in our country and looks to find solutions for a better community for everyone. It involves action that helps to build consensus.
Particularly in an election year, words become polarizing. Yet, there are areas of broad consensus among our congregation about ways that our church can help people in need, while becoming a more inclusive community of faith. Those are the goals of our anti-racism position.
Based upon feedback from committees and various lay groups, I have identified specific areas of focus to achieve these goals that correspond to the “3Ws” of our mission statement:
1) Welcome – Continue to partner with Mount Zion Baptist Church, including the weekly conference call for prayer and prayer partners matched between members of either congregation. Please let me know if you would like to participate in either.
2) Worship – Continue to confess the sin of racism in our liturgy, while incorporating aspects of worship from different parts of the world, such as music, visual arts and poetry. Particularly during this time of the pandemic, worship is led by staff. But I encourage your ideas and participation. As a bridge between worship and witness, I point to the ongoing Christian education opportunities. The women’s and men’s fellowships, the Exploring Together Sunday School class, the middle school youth group, and the Thirst Quenchers group all have studied different aspects of anti-racism. Such open discussion is a part of our worship, as we are to love the Lord with all of our mind (Matt 22:37), and also provides impetus for action in the larger community.
3) Witness – In light of the exponential numbers of people of color in prison and the promise of Jesus to be with them (Matt 25:36), continue our work with the Youth Development Center and broaden our ministry, possibly through support of Benevolence Farm (https://benevolencefarm.org/)
, which works to provide housing and employment to women recently released from jail. It is also noted that Habitat for Humanity is a way to address the need in Chatham County for affordable housing. I have taken a position on a committee at both Benevolence Farm and Habitat so that I might learn ways to help our congregation become more involved.
I encourage your feedback on these ideas as well as your participation in ways that you feel are safe in light of the continuing reality of the pandemic. Let us be united in making our world a better place for all.
Speaking of which, let me say that our mission statement, including our goals for anti-racism, reflects another three-fold statement: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). It is in this faith that we move forward together.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)