Overture 1 Sent to the PCA’s 44th General Assembly: Steps Towards Racial Reconciliation

The 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America will meet in Mobile, Ala., June 20-24, 2016

Therefore be it resolved, that, before our Lord, the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America exhorts all its members, especially its officers, to examine themselves in the light of Scripture to determine if there be any unconfessed and unrepentant sins of partiality, favoritism, or prejudice among them (Gn. 1:26-27, Eph. 2:14-22, Jas. 2:1-4).

 

The following Overture was adopted by Heartland Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America at its stated meeting, August 8, 2015. It will be considered at the 44th PCA General Assembly that will meet in Mobile, Ala., June 20-24, 2016.

Whereas, the 30th General Assembly adopted a statement on racial reconciliation that confessed its covenantal, generational, and heinous sins connected with unbiblical forms of servitude[1]; and

Whereas, the 32nd General Assembly adopted a paper titled “The Gospel and Race” that was produced under the oversight of our Mission to North America committee[2]; and

Whereas, the 144th General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod adopted a statement on “Racial Questions”[3]; and

Whereas, the facts of history, especially during the period of the 1950’s through the 1970’s, confirm generational sins among some of our courts, churches, officers, and members, such as: 1) lack of concern regarding societal and ecclesiastical racial injustice and 2) opposition to the visible unity of all believers in Christ[4]; and

Whereas, in seeking to confess and repent of our own sins, we acknowledge that the iniquity of our fathers may continue in the midst of some of our churches, and as they do, they negatively affect our denomination as a whole (Lev. 26:40-45, Ezra 9:6-16, Neh. 9:1-38, Dan. 9:1-27); and

Whereas, the PCA has been hindered in its goal to be obedient to the Great Commission because our Presbyteries and individual congregations have not sufficiently addressed these sins that continue to affect our churches and witness today; and

Whereas, we wholly lean on the grace of God for forgiveness, reconciliation, and repentance (Eph. 2:1-16, 2 Ti. 2:24-26, 2 Cor. 5:18-21),

Therefore be it resolved, that, before our Lord, the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America exhorts all its members, especially its officers, to examine themselves in the light of Scripture to determine if there be any unconfessed and unrepentant sins of partiality, favoritism, or prejudice among them (Gn. 1:26-27, Eph. 2:14-22, Jas. 2:1-4), specifically:

  1. Barring people from participating in and/or failing to encourage them to attend upon the worship of God and membership in Christ’s Church based upon their ethnicity
  2. Tolerating in our Presbyteries and local churches members of groups organized for the segregation, exclusion, and/or harm of people based on their ethnicity
  3. Speaking and/or preaching in favor of prejudice and segregation that leads to the disunity of God’s people
  4. Actively working to oppose the betterment of those of a different ethnicity than ourselves
  5. Looking down upon people based upon their ethnicity
  6. Actively, passively and/or inadvertently being unloving and inconsiderate of all people in all our thoughts, words, and actions
  7. Harboring sinful anger, bitterness, and a vengeful spirit towards people based upon their ethnicity or past sins; and

Be it further resolved, that if any such sins be discovered, either past or present, that these sins be admitted, confessed, forgiveness sought before God and from those brothers and sisters so sinned against, as far as possible, and repentance, reconciliation, and reformation be manifested according to God’s Word (Mt. 3:8, WCF 15); and

Be it further resolved, that all members of the PCA are encouraged to call all people without distinction to faith in the Gospel and repentance, and to invite them into our local churches because our God Himself shows no partiality (Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11); and

Be it further resolved, that all congregations of the PCA work together to strengthen the unity of our denomination, as a part of the one Church, the singular bride of Christ, founded not on culture, ethnicity, or class, but one in Christ, fulfilling the mission and work of all He commanded us (Mt. 28:18-20, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 4:1-16); and

Be it further resolved, that the Stated Clerk disseminate this resolution to all Presbyteries and Sessions in the PCA for the reconciliation and health of Christ’s Church; and

Be it further resolved, that Presbyteries and Sessions be greatly encouraged to examine their own history on these issues and to spread this resolution to all its members for the purpose that all would examine their hearts with more specificity and appropriate Biblical action be taken where applicable.

[1] M30GA, pp. 261-270, www.pcahistory.org/pca/race.html

[2] M32GA, pp. 124-25; 427-57, www.pcahistory.org/pca/racism.pdf

[3] Minutes of the 144th General Synod of the RPCES, pp. 51-54.  www.pcahistory.org/findingaids/rpces/docsynod/385.html

[4] Sean Michael Lucas, For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2015).