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Global partners express solidarity with US siblings

Working together for a better world

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterians do mission in partnership and the mutual support has been strong as the U.S. fights pandemics on two fronts, COVID-19 and systemic racism.

Below are excerpts of letters, messages, sermons and poems that have been sent to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) They contain messages of love, solidarity and prayer from partners around the world.

Latin America

The Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of Latin America (AIPRAL) expresses its pain and anger for the murder of George Floyd. This is not an isolated act but a sin that lies in the very structure of our societies, and the time has come to eradicate racism from among us once and for all.

We make as our own the declaration of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and we in Latin America and the Caribbean want to give to our sisters and brothers in the United States our embrace full of affection, prayer and comfort, and the strength through solidarity to transform this injustice.

Racism is not absent in our regions but is manifested just as brutally against our brothers and sisters who are Afro-descended, indigenous and migrants. Racism, in addition, is not an isolated factor of sin, but is tangled up and is an essential part of economic injustice and hierarchical visions that deny that all human beings were created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26-28)

As churches in the Reformed tradition we are called to learn from the experience and vision of our sisters and brothers in South Africa expressed in the Confession of Belhar that our churches be witness of a humanity reconciled by the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we walk in solidarity with those who suffer, and we stand by actions that lead to an authentic and just reconciliation.

Rev. Agnaldo Pereira Gomes, President, and the Rev. Darío Barolin, Executive Secretary

Central Congo

We had something very special happen this morning. A group of friends — pastors, laymen, and a leader of Presbyterian women — called us from Kananga in central Congo. They wanted to pray for us and for the people in the United States as we face COVID-19. As individuals prayed in Tshiluba another person translated in real time about 1/2 beat behind the person praying. Too often we in the Western world think of ourselves as the givers, the benefactors, the only leaders. That is simply not the case. These wonderful Christian leaders were calling to pray for the U.S., for us! We were moved.

— from Jimmy Shafe via Facebook

Presbyterian Church of Nigeria

We appreciate your prayers and kind words of encouragement. Your preparedness to extend further helping hands despite the fact that you are currently facing a more grievous situation in your country is particularly very touching.  Please know that we are also earnestly praying for you.

Karen Campbell, the United Reformed Church’s Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, and the Moderators of the URC General Assembly, the Rev. Nigel Uden and Derek Estill (UK):

The United Reformed Church has no hesitation in adding its voice to the outrage and dismay expressed following the brutal killing of George Floyd. Floyd is the latest in a long line of black people killed in the USA by police officers — those whose sole authority comes from the motto “to protect and to serve.”

Together with our sister Churches in the USA, the United Reformed Church declares that racism — in any form — is a sin against humanity and a sin against God, who created all people in God’s own image and likeness.

Asia

Below is a prayer that weaves together the expression of partners from the Asia-Pacific area — may it inspire us all as we confront the days ahead.  (Mienda Uriarte, Office of Asia and the Pacific)

O Great Love,

We praise you Lord, for all your blessings and love for all humans and all Creation of your world. We thank you for living and loving in us and through us.  May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings.  Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory.  Listen to our heart’s longings for the healing of the world.

We don’t know the cause of this worst disaster. It may be because of our ignorance, or because of our pride, or because of the misuse of our authority and power, or maybe it’s from not taking proper care of your Creation. Forgive our, O Lord, and guide us by your Spirit that we may be able to protect ourselves from this peril of COVID-19.

We pray for the doctors, nurses, and all others who are risking their lives to take care of the infected ones. We express condolence for those who lost their friends and family members because of the lethal coronavirus. Comfort them O, Lord, as we pray for healing and grace for those who are infected and affected.

We pray for a large class of laborers, garment workers and poor people — all those who live on daily wages — as it is not possible for them to follow all the government mandates and instructions.  What will they do, O Lord?  Keep them safe in your loving embrace, for that is the only shelter they have.

Guide also the leaders of all nations and of the world that they may come together to help each other and commit themselves to find a way by your wisdom to save the people of your world from this deadly virus. Shine your light over the darkness of this world, O Lord.

Presbyterian World Mission

In turn, Sara Lisherness, interim director of World Mission, sent a message to PC(USA) global partners with lament and hope:

COVID-19 has revealed a much deeper, pervasive illness that affects the entire global community but is profoundly visible at this moment in the United States. Institutionalized, systemic racism and white supremacy have been exposed in profound ways in recent weeks. Sadly, the recent violent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and George Floyd are a common experience in the United States. These extrajudicial killings brazenly demonstrate what people of color, especially our black siblings, have known for over 400 years: the United States and its institutions, even the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), have benefited from the maintenance of institutionalized racism and white supremacy. Too often, we have perpetuated and reinforced racism.

We need to repent of this complicity and commit to radical change in how we embody equality and justice in our relationships with you, our partners in God’s mission. We are humbled by your grace over many years and ask your forbearance as we do the hard work that is set before us.

We remain deeply committed to our partnerships, even as many of our mission personnel have returned to the United States or have been asked to work from home in recent weeks. We are working with staff to adapt to the situation in their country of service — as lockdowns are lifted and communities re-open, we encourage personnel to work with you in determining safe ways to continue our work together.

These are difficult times for us all, and we need to stand together. We thank you for the ways in which many of you and your churches have supported us, particularly by lifting up the crises around race and racism, that we are facing in the USA at this time.

Please be assured that we are still with you in your struggles, as we know that you are with us in ours.


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