Racism Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the PCUSA - Application Due November 28, 2016
Racism Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – Item 11-12 - 222nd General Assembly (2016)
The 222nd General Assembly (2016) voted to
2. Establish and convene a “Racism Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)” that is charged with conducting a churchwide listening campaign to hear the voices of peoples long silenced regarding the state of institutional racism and oppression within our church.
a. This commission shall report the result of its listening campaign to the General Assembly meeting in Baltimore in 2020. The report shall include a statement of findings and recommendations to be voted upon by the General Assembly. Approved actions shall begin implementation within the following year.
b. The commission shall consist of twenty persons (ten ruling elders and ten teaching elders); fifteen of these persons shall identify as people of color. In addition, every effort should be made to achieve geographic representation from every synod. The commission shall be appointed by the Moderator and shall be constituted no later than December 31, 2016. It shall be chaired by a former Moderator or Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly who will serve as a member of the commission. The commission shall be resourced and funded through the Office of the Stated Clerk.
c. The commission shall meet twice annually beginning in 2017, and shall conduct the work of the listening campaigns on a regional basis. The commission shall determine strategies to carry out its work and present these strategies in a report to the 223rd General Assembly (2018) for their approval.
Rationale Regarding Recommendation 2:
Despite the efforts to change public policies and put an end to segregation, we continue to live in divided neighborhoods with divergent experiences. We have failed to fully comprehend the ways that racism persists today, both inside of and outside of our church. As an institution founded and dominated by “white” Christians, we need to create opportunities to listen to those who suffer from racist policies and practices.
Racism persists even as we become more ethnically and culturally diverse as a nation, extending racist policies to new groups of people of color. We are aware that racial injustice is experienced differently in different regions of the U.S. and between rural and urban areas. Therefore, we need a regional approach in order to hear from all corners of our country and the variety of circumstances. Efforts have already begun to identify a more regional approach to building cultural competency and the ways we can work to end racism that would benefit from a broader and deeper listening campaign.
As our brothers and sisters in South Africa have taught us, “unity is ... both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ.”2 In order for such reconciliation to occur, however, we must be willing to hear and tell the truth of our sins, trusting “that God’s lifegiving Word and Spirit has conquered the powers of sin and death, and therefore also of irreconciliation and hatred, bitterness and enmity, that God’s lifegiving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world.”3
On February 11, 2016, the Presbytery of Baltimore passed a recommendation to direct the Committee on Local Arrangements for the 224th General Assembly (2020) (Baltimore) to make racial atonement and reconciliation its central theme and focus.