Whereas, last year and this year mark significant anniversaries in the Civil Rights movement: 2014 was the sixtieth anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and Freedom Summer, and 2015 was the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the Selma-to-Montgomery March; and

Whereas, many of our conservative Presbyterian churches at the time not only failed to support the Civil Rights movement, but actively worked against racial reconciliation in both church and society; and

Whereas, the 30th General Assembly adopted a resolution on racial reconciliation that confessed its covenantal, generational, heinous sins connected with unbiblical forms of servitude, but failed to deal with the covenantal, generational, heinous sins committed during the much more recent Civil Rights era (cf. Daniel 9:4-11); and

Whereas, the 32nd General Assembly adopted a pastoral letter on “the Gospel and Race” that was produced under the oversight of our Mission to North America committee, but that also failed to acknowledge the lack of solidarity with African Americans which many of our churches displayed during the Civil Rights era; and

Whereas, our denomination’s continued unwillingness to speak truthfully about our failure to seek justice and to love mercy during the Civil Rights era significantly hinders present-day efforts for reconciliation with our African American brothers and sisters; and

Whereas, God has once more given our denomination a gracious providential opportunity to show the beauty, grace and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ by showing Christ-like love and compassion towards the greater African American community;

Be it therefore resolved, that the 43rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize and confess our church’s covenantal and generational involvement in and complicity with racial injustice inside and outside of our churches during the Civil Rights period; and

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly recommit ourselves to the task of truth and reconciliation with our African American brothers and sisters for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and

Be it finally resolved, that the General Assembly urges the congregations of the Presbyterian Church in America to confess their own particular sins and failures as may be appropriate and to seek to further truth and reconciliation for the Gospel’s sake within their own local communities.

TE Sean M. Lucas

TE J. Ligon Duncan III

5 Responses to Personal Resolution on Civil Rights Remembrance

  1. Phil Wade says:

    This plain-sense resolution seems straight-forward, and I gather the GA closed last night with prayers of confession in this vein. What objections were raised to this? What does referring this to the 44th Assembly mean, that it will start at square one again next year?

  2. Al LaCour says:

    I was raised in a “liberal” PCUS church in Central Mississippi Presbytery (one of few that did NOT join the PCA). Racism (and I too was enmeshed in structural racism) was a stumbling block to me. Conservative theology and conservative politics were apparently inseparable. If the gospel had not been re-packaged and “re-presented” to me during college in more progressive Atlanta, I’d not have become an evangelical, Bible honoring Christian. And I probably would never have joined the PCA at my ordination. Movement in the PCA toward sincere repentance is deeply soul-satisfying to me.

  3. Mike Oettengill says:

    Praise God and his mercy, grace and justice.

  4. Edward Allegretti says:

    Although I fully support good relationships and mutual assistance to our brothers in Christ of all races and nations, I must ask myself several honest questions in reference to this resolution. 1. Does an apology by present day people for possible sins committed by others really increase good relationships with folks today? 2. How could the PCA legitimately apologize for its supposed sins during the Civil Rights period when it didn’t even exist then, it was formed in 1973? 3. Is it really possible in God’s eyes for one person(s) to apologize for the actions of another(s), or the PCA to apologize for another Presbyterian denomination? 4. Isn’t such an apology so broad in reference to WHO sinned and WHAT their sin is, that it…

  5. Lorelei Eddy says:

    Brothers, as a teaching elders wife who had the privilege of observing the proceedings, I believe the overtures committee, in concert with the fellowship of African-American Presbyterian pastors, wanted this to be more than just a statement of two teaching elders. They are creating an opportunity for every teaching elder and every PCA church to begin the process of confession, repentance, and reconciliation, in hopes that next GA will have a resolution of the PCA as a whole.