The Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Howard County approved this Statement of Solidarity, Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
From the Session at the First Presbyterian Church of Howard County:
We extend our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd, yet again another Black person murdered by police. Mr. Floyd is the latest victim in a recent string of murders of Black Americans by police brutality, indifference, or mistakes. We remember Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Treyvon Martin and scores more too numerous to name.
We pray for the end of this violence against God’s creation, the restoration of justice, and the cessation of these senseless killings at the hands of bigotry and hatred. In these times, we question where God is leading us and how we as a church must respond.
Numerous texts and statements from various PC(USA) writings, remind us of our obligation to act. The 1958 PC(USA) General Assembly affirmed:
“That neither the Church as the body of Christ, nor Christians as individuals, can be neutral or indifferent toward evil in the world; [and] its responsibility to speak on social and moral issues… reminds the churches that their duty is not only to encourage… but corporately… to resist the forces that tyrannize, and to support the forces that restore the dignity of all… as the children of God, for only so is the gospel most fully proclaimed …”
Our Book of Confessions leads us to acknowledge and embrace, as stated in the Confession of 1967, “In each time and place, there are particular problems and crises through which God calls the church to act.” We hold that, “Therefore, the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination and ministers to those injured by it.”
In response to the recent unrest brought on by the death of George Floyd, the Rev. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, wrote:
“Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘A riot is the language of the unheard.’ And what is it that America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.’”
We, the members of the Session at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County believe as written in Micah 6, verse 8:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Therefore, we decry the violence and hatred that is gripping our nation. We declare that we stand in solidarity with and we pray for equity and justice for our sisters, brothers, and siblings of color, and people of all races, religions, ethnicities, immigration status, sexual orientations, gender expressions, or socio-economic status. We urge the members of the congregation to do the work required to achieve peace in our community, state, nation, and world.
Furthermore, we, the Session, acknowledge that systemic racism has been indelibly etched into the formation and fabric of our society, including the formation of our denomination. In the words of the Stated Clerk, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, “[Racism] is really something that is grounded in the DNA of the United States of America. We are a generation of people who are here now that can eradicate racism, but we have to begin a process of helping those who have died from it, who have been locked out, and broken, and despised, and rejected… To redeem them in a way that they might be able to claim part of that discussion.” We realize that striving for racial justice and equality is not a monolithic task to be carried out by a singular group or committee. We, therefore, commit each of our ministry areas to develop one actionable project dedicated to helping guide our congregation to achieve the goal of racial justice and equality, as one way to begin the task of dismantling systemic racism within our church and our community.