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Statement from the Leadership of the Philadelphia Presbytery

July 8, 2016 by  
Filed under PCUSA

To the Faithful Saints of Our Presbytery, 

We find ourselves in the wake of a surreal news cycle, which has linked Baton Rouge, LA, the suburbs of St. Paul, MN, and Dallas, TX, in our collective consciousness at a visceral level arguably not felt in this nation since Dallas was the focus of the news in November, 1963.

Back then, the relatively new technology which made live television news bulletins possible drew us together in shock and grief as we learned of the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy and witnessed the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald two days later.

Today, even the narrative connecting the deaths of the five (as-of-this-writing) unidentified police officers in Dallas to the deaths of Minnesota’s Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge – all as the result of gunfire – varies depending on the perspective of the media outlet telling the story.

Our faith compels us to speak against the flood of bloodshed pouring out throughout the nation, in our streets, schools, nightclubs, workplaces, and yes, even our churches.   We give voice to the anger and despair in our midst, with prophetic-sounding yet broad denouncements of the role of racism as it relates to the violence in our culture.  We gather in vigils where we shed tears, light candles, and drop to our knees in prayer.

And then, in silence, we rise up from our knees and…And what?

The leadership of this diverse covenant community of Christians known as the Presbytery of Philadelphia recognizes the answer won’t be found in any written or spoken statement.  “All lives matter” won’t do, nor will battling Facebook memes, Twitter hashtags; no gathering or vigil, however cathartic, will bring about the necessary healing.

What we can do, indeed we are called to do, is to bear witness to the ministry of reconciliation that is our very being.  We are called to die humbly to self and together boldly rise as the body of Christ against all injustice- for we are a forgiven and empowered people through Christ’s blood.

Regardless of the unique brokenness from which God has called us, the size of the congregation where we worship, or the way we share the story and sing our song of God’s love, let us daily commit ourselves to:

  • listen to and speak truth when others are proclaiming falsehood;
  • incarnate unity where others seek to divide;
  • be beacons of hope and love in the midst of hopelessness and hate.

Clearly, words fail us. The only answer we have is our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – in word and deed. So we pray not only for our nation and world, but also all those in our Presbytery and beyond who will dare proclaim this Gospel from their pulpits and through their witness this week and every day thereafter.

From the Leadership of the Presbytery of Philadelphia

“…the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory…”
John 1:14
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