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Heal Us Immanuel - An Introduction by Pastor Jeremy Fair

Heal Us, Emmanuel - An Introduction by Pastor Jeremy

I don’t suspect that anyone would argue that we are a divided nation and the issues that divide us are many and complex. We see this division in the culture at large and, unfortunately, we see this division in the Church of Jesus Christ. One of the clearest indications of division among Christians is the segregation in worship according to racial and ethnic identity. Even though Jesus came to tear down the dividing wall between Jew and Greek, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, and every other racial and ethnic category, we have sinfully worked to erect new walls of division.

Our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, recognizes that racial and ethnic division is not the way it ought to be and has spent years seeking to address this problem. Below, is a statement titled “Race, The PCA, and CPC” that the Session has adopted as an introduction to these issues. The statement doesn’t say everything that could be said or should be said but it hopefully serves to bring this issue before us. Below the statement is a link to the PCA’s Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation Study Committee Report, which was unanimously adopted at the 2018 General Assembly. The Session commends them both to you and asks you to read the statement first, then read the report. The pastors and elders are always available to discuss these issues with members and search for prayerful ways forward.

Race, The PCA, and CPC

Our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, has both a beautiful history of striving for gospel faithfulness based on God’s authoritative word, and an ugly history of racism, marginalization, and segregation of people of color, specifically blacks in the South (we were founded in Birmingham and are headquartered in Atlanta.) Thankfully, the Lord is not done guiding and guarding his Church. In June 2018, our General Assembly (the annual national gathering of PCA elders) unanimously approved and adopted the Report on Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation.

During the 70 year Exile of God’s people in Persia, Daniel considered Jeremiah’s prophecy and was led to confession. It wasn’t only his personal sins that he confessed to the LORD, but the collective sins of Israel and Judah that led them into exile. “We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listed to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but us open shame" (Dan. 9:5-7). In short, he recognized the covenantal complicity in the deeds of unfaithfulness by the fathers and forefathers of the nations of Israel and Judah.

Even though no CPC member has ever owned slaves, never advocated different restrooms or separate schools in our communities, never kept anyone from owning land or voting due to the color of one’s skin, we still must acknowledge from whence we’ve come, and seek the pardon of God (in confession) while we also seek to bless those whom our fathers and forefathers wronged (in deeds of justice and mercy). Racial reconciliation is a deeply biblical issue (cf. Ephesians 2; Galatians 2-3; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Romans 9-11; and many other passages), so it’s no surprise how much of our New Testament is devoted to removing the dividing walls between Jew and Gentile within the church context. We, as representatives of the God of restoration, must raise our voice and engage our body to battle against any thought, word, or deed that isolates anyone from the love of God in Christ.

The PCA has a rich heritage of taking up the cause of the unborn and fighting the good fight for biblical marriage. We are coming to realize that past actions coupled with our own silence has perpetuated systemic issues and structures that have worked to disadvantage many minorities, especially our African American brothers and sisters. Now, we need to listen to and learn from their experience that we might see the Kingdom here and now reflect the one coming soon.

It remains uncertain exactly what that means for CPC, but we are starting the conversation. We may add an annual seminar, we may shift an outreach focus, or new emphases in sermons–we don’t yet know. This much is clear; it will take gospel vision, theological rootedness, honest assessment, creative approaches, and committed determination to see God’s vision for the Church become a reality. We hope you will journey with us as we seek to follow the way of Christ.

- The Session of CPC

The PCA’s Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation Study Committee Report