The 43rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was marked by a significant discussion of racial issues. The conversation started when Drs. Ligon Duncan and Sean Michael Lucas, both having served or serving congregations in Mississippi, stood up on Tuesday night to introduce a personal resolution calling for the PCA to confess the sins of our churches and people during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. The following day (Wednesday) of the Assembly, the Overtures Committee had to deal with this resolution and then bring it to the floor for the consideration of the whole Assembly during their report on Thursday. The debate in the Overtures Committee on this issue lasted nine hours on Wednesday. The final recommendation of that committee was to refer the issue to the 44th General Assembly so that not just confession was a part of the resolution but that concrete steps toward repentance could be added as well. For many that was just not enough. There were many that wanted the 43rd General Assembly to speak to the issues now while these things are in the front of our national consciousness. Being Presbyterians and having a penchant for doing everything decently and in order makes quick action difficult if not impossible. Ultimately, the recommendation of the Overtures Committee was adopted and we will take up the issue at the next GA with the intention of making it a more robust statement with tangible actions. I can live with that and look forward to what will come from the next Assembly. However, I was one who believed that we needed to speak in a timely fashion and so I joined several hundred men that signed a protest, saying in effect, that we believed the time is now to speak up about the need to confess our sins and to take clear steps to repent of any complicity in sinning against our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ. That goes for the Civil Rights movement before our denomination even existed right up to today.
As I write this I realize that someone, far more eloquent and capable of explaining this, will be writing an article for “by Faith” magazine. So happily you will be able to read more about it later. I’m particularly glad that I signed that protest because it was the only way for there to be a record in the minutes of the General Assembly that we had discussed these things and were taking them very seriously this year. It was a way to tell the world that we do things decently and in order because we want things to be right, that doesn’t mean that we are passing the buck to next years Assembly.
There is much in the news about racial issues these days. It is a painful thing to wrestle with what happened in Charleston. We can learn much from the response of our brothers and sisters there as they have grieved with Christlike grace and humility. Please pray for issues that divide us that should not divide Christians. God made man in His image, in the image of God He created them male and female. From our first parents we all trace our heritage, we are one race, let us love that way.