A Resolution in Support of Black Lives Matter

affirmed by Session on July 22, 2020

We are living in a time of crisis. In recent weeks and months hard truths have come to light—truths which have been hidden from the cultural majority for a long time, which have been heard, dismissed, and not addressed. The hard truth of systemic racism now captures the attention of citizens in the United States of America and around the world.

As Robert Wald Sussman wrote “Biologically valid races are not real, but cultural racism is, and we must understand how this cultural racism affects our everyday interactions.” We cannot dismiss systemic racism as a Minneapolis problem, a Louisville problem, or a Chicago problem. It is not confined to our southern states but has become all-encompassing. Citizens of Columbus, Ohio, took to the streets in protest recently to yell at the top of their lungs, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” The congregation and leadership of Indianola Presbyterian Church recognize this crisis.

The Christian church in the United States has a dual heritage of values which offer an alternative to systemic racism. In the Bible we read “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27 NRSV). Further, in Genesis God created humans to be stewards and caretakers of God's world. Scripture does not say that God created humans to rule over other human beings. God called his creation good. In our nation's foundational documents, we assent to the propositions that “all men are created equal” and that the state should “insure domestic tranquility.” However, we concur with Nikole Hannah-Jones, who wrote for the 1619 Project (New York Times Magazine, August 14, 2019) about the moral stain created by American slavery, “Our democracy's founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.” These ideals are not currently being lived in our society.

We can no longer ignore the problem of systemic racism caused by culture in our world, our nation, and our cities. We also acknowledge the historic role of the Church in perpetuating the African slave trade and racism. In spite of progress made as a result of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the election of the first American Black president, there is still work to be done.

We must actively seek to help repair the generational traumas and debt created by enslavement of African peoples. We must also recognize that systemic racism has evolved into new forms. Mass incarcerations and unfair sentencing practices are staggering for Black individuals in comparison with white individuals who commit similar crimes. Incarcerated Black individuals are often stripped of legal rights for the rest of their lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and exacerbated inequalities in Black communities where resources for health care and decent, affordable housing are scarce. Generational poverty is rampant. If progress has been made, it is little and reveals the need for more work to bring about what God called good.

Therefore, the Session of Indianola Presbyterian Church affirms that “Black Lives Matter.” We further endorse the need for this congregation to seek, through inquiry, prayer and action, to participate in repairing generational trauma and to stand with the oppressed as Jesus taught us to do.

Other groups throughout our history as a nation, such as Native Americans and Hispanics, have suffered discrimination. However, this resolution is focused on African Americans. Timing and momentum are critical in building support for social change, and the time seems right for “Black Lives Matter.” With this focus in mind, we will strive for recognition that every human being is created in the beloved image of God, that every human being is to be treated equally, and that society should “ensure domestic tranquility” through true equality rather than police powers. We pray to work towards healing and restoring wholeness to God's good creation, where all are valued and loved.