Statement on Racial Justice

Calvary Presbyterian Church
Statement on Racial Justice
Drafted September, 2020

The Gospel of Luke records an encounter Jesus has with some of his critics.  He turns their complaints into a “teachable moment” by telling a story that is usually called The Parable of the Lost Sheep.  

“Suppose one of you,” says Jesus, “had a hundred sheep and lost one.  Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it?  When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home, call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me!  I’ve found my lost sheep!’  Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue” (Luke 15:4-7, The Message).

In telling this story, Jesus is not saying that God does not care for the ninety-nine sheep who are safely in the fold.  God cares for all of the sheep.  Jesus is, however, pointing out that sometimes it is necessary to give special care and attention to the one sheep who has been lost and gotten separated from the others.

When we hear the phrase, “Black Lives Matter,” this does not deny that all lives matter.  Rather, it means that it is necessary to give special care and attention to the injustices that black people have suffered and continue to face in this country.  To counter the phrase “black lives matter” with the phrase “all lives matter” is to deny that one of the sheep is not fully part of the fold—to deny the need for reconciliation and full inclusion and equality of our black brothers and sisters.

Here at Calvary, racial justice is not a theoretical issue.  We have our spiritual forebearers to thank for that.  As a church, Calvary encountered the issue of racial equality firsthand in the 1980’s, and thankfully, blessedly, we chose the way of inclusion, embracing people of all colors and backgrounds as Christian family.  This is our understanding of the Body of Christ, that though many and diverse, we are one, united together under the lordship of Jesus Christ.  

We have received the command to love others as God has loved us.  Therefore, we reject racism in all its forms and commit to:  

  • self-examination and repentance of the racism that lies disguised and hidden in the human heart
  • listen to our sisters and brothers of color to deepen our understanding of the effects of systemic racism
  • pursue racial equality in our personal and communal relationships and activities
  • seek and support opportunities for racial reconciliation

We cannot amend our hearts or our lives alone.  For that, we must surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit.  With humility and with gratitude for God’s mercy and redemptive love, Calvary is striving together to be a shining light of racial justice in our world, to the glory of God.