Missouri Presbytery has unanimously approved an overture calling on churches and presbyteries to “recognize and confess our church’s covenantal and generational involvement in and complicity with racial injustice” during the civil rights era.
The overture further urges the General Assembly (GA) to confess continued sins of racism toward minority brothers and sisters and to recommit to seeking appropriate expressions of reconciliation.
The overture is a response to the Personal Resolution on Civil Rights Remembrance submitted by Sean Lucas and Ligon Duncan to the 2015 General Assembly. As the Assembly debated the Personal Resolution, several African-American pastors expressed their desire for an overture that included more details on how presbyteries and local congregations could demonstrate repentance.
Duplicates to Overture 4
Overture 6, Chesapeake Presbytery
Overture 8, Eastern Carolina Presbytery
Overture 9, Tennessee Valley Presbytery
Overture 12, Pacific Northwest Presbytery
Overture 19, Chicago Metro Presbytery
After the 2015 Assembly, a working group of black and white pastors came together to draft an overture that included specific fruits of repentance. After drafting the overture, the authors sent it to a network of pastors for feedback. The working group also consulted Lucas and Duncan as well as those in several other presbyteries.
The revised resolution includes an exhortation that individual congregations and presbyteries confess their “particular sins and failures regarding racial injustice … and seek to bring forth fruits of repentance … within their local communities.”
The revised overture outlines specific examples of the fruit of repentance, including “clarity that racism is a sin requiring formative and corrective discipline; growing into cultural intelligence regarding minority cultures” and “renewing our church’s commitment to develop minority leadership at the congregational, presbytery, and denominational levels.”
Tim LeCroy, pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Missouri, was one of the pastors in the extended network who offered feedback. He also moved the overture to the floor of Missouri Presbytery.
While the overture does not represent the feelings of every African-American pastor, LeCroy said it reflects the ideas of many African-American thought leaders in the PCA.
“[The overture] reflects a broader consensus of pastors and the desires and wishes of our African-American brothers in the denomination. … It also reflects the intent of the recommendation of last GA that the resolution be grassroots and come up from the lower courts. … [Missouri Presbytery] didn’t change the overture we received from the working group at all. We thought it was important to send up the exact words of that group,” he said.
LeCroy hopes other presbyteries will also adopt the overture and send it on to the stated clerk.
The overture demonstrates that the denomination takes seriously its past and current sins, and LeCroy thinks it is always healthy for the denomination to confess. By confessing specific sins of racism, he says, the denomination creates a more welcoming environment for all minorities.
To date, 14 of the 19 overtures that have been submitted to the 44th Assembly deal with this issue.