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When the Apostle Paul quoted what may well be Christianity’s first creed in his letter to the Galatians, he boldly proclaimed that all baptized believers are God’s children:
“For you are all children of God in the Spirit
There is no Jew or Greek;
There is no slave or free;
There is no male or female.
For you are all one in the Spirit.”
When a 12-year-old Jesus escaped his parents’ watchful eye during the family’s annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the anxious couple returned to find him at long last in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”
Seven presbyteries and one congregation have been selected to be part of the third wave of the Vital Congregations Initiative in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).
For nearly three years, Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church near Annapolis, Maryland, has been transforming its grounds and nearby woods with native plants to help protect local waterways and attract butterflies and other wildlife.
The Presbytery of Milwaukee calls its ambitious work around the Matthew 25 invitation “Healing Through Action.” Last fall, congregations and members of the presbytery took on medical care (“I was sick and you looked after me”) and housing (“I was a stranger and you invited me in”).
Jim Ferguson of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Newburgh, New York was recently checking out a do-it-yourself project on YouTube. Nothing unusual for him, since he is a long-time volunteer with the Habitat for Humanity PresbyBuild group in Hudson River Presbytery. The group is currently working on its 10th house and has raised almost enough funds for house 11.
After seeing the Gallup Poll study, which came out during Holy Week, that for the first time church membership in the U.S. has declined to less than half the population, Presbyterian News Service reached out to the Rev. Brian Heron for some insight. As Presbyter for Vision and Mission in the Presbytery of the Cascades, located in Portland, Oregon, Heron lives and works in one of the least religious cities in the nation.
The year was 1903. The crowd was gathered on a street in Wilmington, Delaware. A Black man named George White had been arrested on charges of assaulting and killing a white girl. The man orating was a Presbyterian pastor named Robert Elwood. The mob broke into George White’s holding cell, dragged him out, then beat, hacked and burned him to death [a documentary about the lynching of George White, “In the Dead Fire’s Ashes,” directed by Stephen Labovsky, debuted at the Wilmington Film Festival in spring 2005].
Over the past year about 3,800 hate attacks were recorded against Asian Americans. According to research by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, attacks increased by 150% in 2020.
This is it. The hard conversation. You’re prepared to lead your church group in the difficult work of antiracism. You’ve researched the perfect book. You’ve got the webinar cued up. You have your difficult but necessary questions prepared. But have you done your own work?