In a recent conversation, I was asked for my views regarding racial reconciliation and justice, especially as it pertained to local churches in my denomination (the Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA). I explained in response how the Lord has put this work on my heart over the last 4-5 years. As I have tried to lead in this area, both in concrete action and dialogue, I have often been met with accusation, defensiveness, resistance, and slander. Such reactions have only convinced me even more that the subjects of race and racism, both in and outside of the church, cannot be avoided but must instead be addressed by local churches head on.
I further explained how I believe our presbyterian and reformed tradition has a rich theology of lament, restitution, and corporate sin which seems to be conveniently ignored and forgotten in recent conversations on these subjects. In light of ongoing racial disparity in our communities and churches, I concluded by saying that the White Evangelical Church at large (which includes the PCA) must accept responsibility for advancing racism and segregation in our country for centuries; actions which continue to have lasting impact in our communities and our churches today.
My response was met with thankfulness and gratitude, and a warm conversation followed where it was safe to talk through challenges and obstacles in pursuing racial reconciliation and justice. However, there was one question that followed which required further explanation:
“What exactly do you mean by responsibility?”