July 13, 2016

Racial Reconciliation in Our Denomination (PCA)

An essay by Mark Moser

Especially in light of the recent tragic shootings, it seemed worthwhile to tell you all about the PCA’s recent statement on racial reconciliation.

Each year the Presbyterian Church in America, the denomination to which New Life belongs, holds a General Assembly (GA).  This year’s gathering took place in June in Mobile, Alabama, and Steve Smallman and I made the journey there.  Mobile is an enjoyable destination, and an appropriate choice given our denomination’s roots in the south.

This was my first full GA experience, and it was a good one.  The most important item of the week pertained to racial reconciliation efforts, completing work began during the previous GA.  Forty-three separate overtures had to be considered, each with their own opinions and wording on this important matter.  From these many overtures a statement had to be decided upon, edited, and amended by a couple hundred of elders working together!  (Thank you, Robert’s Rules of Order.)

You can read the statement below.  It is an encouraging development.  Moreover, we hope not the end of the story!  And concerning New Life specifically, a Racial Reconciliation group has begun meeting this year.

Unfortunately much of the work on racial reconciliation at GA occurred while Steve and I were travelling home!  But among all the business completed at GA, the ‘major’ event which we participated in was the choice of the PCA logo.  This selection process has been in the works since the beginning of the denomination forty-four years ago.  (I’m not kidding.)

You can view the logo here.  It wasn’t my first choice, but I like it.  They say Presbyterians like blue, and perhaps that’s why.

Why do denominations matter?  They are imperfect things to be sure—but so are local churches like ours!  Denominations serve the good purpose of meaningfully reminding churches that they are not alone, and that these connections with other churches provide both accountability and the sharing of large and specialized efforts.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

“Pursuing Racial Reconciliation and the Advance of the Gospel”

Be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and 

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17); and

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and 

Be it further resolved, that the General Assembly urges the congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America to make this resolution known to their members in order that they may prayerfully confess their own racial sins as led by the Spirit and strive towards racial reconciliation for the advancement of the gospel, the love of Christ, and the glory of God; and 

Be it further resolved, that the 44th General Assembly call the attention of churches and presbyteries to the pastoral letter1 contained in Overture 55 as an example of how a presbytery might provide shepherding leadership for its churches toward racial reconciliation; and 

Be it finally resolved, that the 44th General Assembly remind the churches and presbyteries of the PCA that BCO 31-2 and 38-1 provide potent and readily available means for dealing with ones who have sinned or continue to sin in these areas.

Mark Moser

Mark is the Pastor at New Life. Before coming on staff he spent many years teaching computer programming in the IT sector, while he also pursued theological studies. Mark and his wife Lise live in Glenside with their four children.

Topic: Loving our Community

What does it look like in everyday life to love our neighbors as ourselves and love one another in the body of Christ? We have some wonderful stories to tell.