In Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, we engage the Church in its mission to become more diverse and inclusive of racial, ethnic, cultural and language groups, and we equip women for leadership in all ministries of the Church. We are blessed to see a vision of Pentecost every day. There are Presbyterian Mission Agency offices supporting African, African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino-a, Korean, Middle Eastern, Native American and Portuguese-language emerging ministries. The racial ethnic and new immigrant worshiping communities that we support regularly gather together, constructing a racial ethnic identity that stems from a common history, heritage and language. We work closely with racial ethnic and new immigrant worshiping communities through mid councils, caucus groups, and networks, engaging in the mission to grow, transform, empower, lead and develop communities. We create an awareness of institutional racism in the church and an environment where racial ethnic persons, new immigrants, and women can serve fully in ministry and leadership.
In our ministries we work to achieve gender and racial justice and equip racial ethnic women, men and young adults for leadership. We assist college-age and racial ethnic young women in their faith journeys and foster networks of support for them.
As we discover how to share the gospel in an increasingly diverse culture, we have a greater chance of living out the Biblical vision of a world where the humanity of everyone is valued and where God’s love is spread to every race, class, culture and people.
We Serve a Messiah Whom We Celebrate, Treasure and Adore
“So [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. Whey they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” —Luke 2:16–19 (NRSV)
When Mary and Joseph had their child in a stable with animals all around, and the only crib that this poor, migrant couple found available was a trough where the animals fed, then you’d expect that they would be filled with despair. But instead, I imagine that this was one of the happiest moments of their lives. The word spread that this special baby was born. Rich and poor came to see him. Young and old peered into the manger. Race, gender and class distinctions went away when the diverse people of God came to pay their respects to the child, who would become the messiah of the world!
Our savior Jesus Christ was born in a time of anxiety and uncertainty. Today’s climate seems similar. The newest confession in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—The Confession of Belhar—is encouraging during this time in our history. It calls the church to “witness against and strive against any form of injustice. . .” Belhar also calls us to:
Reconciliation and Building Up God’s people
“We believe that Christ’s work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another; that unity is. . . one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain.”
A New Humanity and Suffering with One Another
“We believe. . . that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness.”
Celebrate Various Languages and Cultures
“We believe. . . that the variety of spiritual gifts, opportunities, backgrounds, convictions, as well as the various languages and cultures, are by virtue of the reconciliation in Christ, opportunities for mutual service and enrichment within the one visible people of God.”
Reject the Separation of People on A Racial Basis
“We believe that the credibility of this message is seriously affected and its beneficial work obstructed when it is proclaimed in a land which professes to be Christian, but in which the enforced separation of people on a racial basis promotes and perpetuates alienation, hatred and enmity; that any teaching which attempts to legitimate such forced separation by appeal to the gospel, and is not prepared to venture on the road of obedience and reconciliation, but rather, out of prejudice, fear, selfishness and unbelief, denies in advance the reconciling power of the gospel, must be considered ideology and false doctrine.
“In times of anxiety, we may be tempted to despair, but our faith encourages us to be hopeful, for we serve a messiah whom we celebrate, treasure and adore.
“We believe that, in obedience to Jesus Christ, its only head, the church is called to confess and to do all these things, even though the authorities and human laws might forbid them and punishment and suffering be the consequence. . . To the one and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory for ever and ever.”—Excerpts are from The Confession of Belhar
Rhashell D. Hunter
Read the Racial Ethnic Torch
In the current issue of the Racial Ethnic Torch, we lift up the work that Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a whole, is doing to overcome racism. Some of the articles featured in this issue include:
- “Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community”
- “Churchwide Conversation on Race, Ethnicity, Racism, and Ethnocentricity”
- “Women of Faith”: 2016 Award Recipients