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Advocacy as Discipleship

August 22, 2014 by  
Filed under PCUSA

From the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness

Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries

 

A CALL FOR MORE THAN JUDICIAL REMEDIES TO THE KILLING OF AFRICAN AMERICAN BOYS AND MEN
By the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
 
“In each time and place, there are particular problems and crisis through which God calls the church to act. The church, guided by the Spirit, humbled by its own complicity and instructed by all attainable knowledge, seeks to discern the will of God and learn how to obey in these concrete situations…”
– The Confession of 1967, 9.43
 Let me begin by expressing my deep sympathies to the families and all persons adversely affected by the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the many others whose lives have been unjustly and too early taken by the scourge of gun violence. To the families who suffer needlessly from the loss of loved ones due to murder and gun violence in the United States, I can only convey the Spirit of our faith in the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
 THE KILLING OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN AND BOYS
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, an African American man was seen on a cell phone video being choked to death, ostensibly for selling single cigarettes, by New York City police with what appeared to be excessive force.
On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, a 17-year-old African American boy in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot in the back while holding his hands in the air indicating that he was unarmed. Both killings were perpetrated by White police officers. The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC, has been inundated with requests to sign and release statements regarding the shooting of Michael Brown. After taking some time to pause and reflect, I am releasing this statement…
OUR CALLING TO ADDRESS RACISM
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is called through our confessional documents to be the Church of every age. “God’s reconciling work in Jesus Christ and the mission of reconciliation to which he has called his church are the heart of the gospel in any age. Our generation stands in peculiar need of reconciliation in Christ.”  (The Confession of 1967, 9.06) It is not enough for us as Christians to be appalled or sad, but view Ferguson, Missouri, as a place beyond our own reality.We must be clear that the issues of this shooting are deeper than anything one trial can resolve. Yes, it is about the shattered hopes of a family that has lost a loved one, a lost which will reverberate for generations. But it is also deeply and truly about the social sin of prejudice, bigotry, and institutionalized racism, which is imbedded in our social structures, our justice system, and the laws by which we claim to offer freedom to each other.
Read the complete statement on our blog. 
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