About NPC and Social Justice
NPC’s Statement on Social Justice
Newton Presbyterian Church is deeply committed to the cause of ending systemic racism and social injustice in America and around the world. This position is aligned with that of our denomination, thePC(USA).
“God sends the Church to work for justice in the world: exercising its power for the common good; dealing honestly in personal and public spheres; seeking dignity and freedom for all people…”
Book of Order,
The PC(USA) has adopted the Belhar Confession and the Confession of 1967 to reflect these beliefs.Links to each are provided below.
Confession of 1967:
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” – Proverbs21:3
ADDRESSING YOUR QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS REGARDING OUR STANCEWhy are we saying that “Presbyterians Affirm Black Lives Matter”?
Simply put: because Black lives do indeed matter. They/we matter to God, which means they/we should matter to God’s people.
Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community, the PC(USA) Churchwide Antiracism Policy,first adopted in 1999 and revised in 2016, proclaims the following:
“While recognizing that racism victimizes many different racial ethnic groups, we acknowledge its unique impact on the African American community. Given the particular forms that anti-Black racism has taken in the United States of America both historically (including slavery and Jim Crow) and today(including mass incarceration, disproportionate policing, economic inequality, and continuing acts of racially oriented violence and hate), we state clearly: GOD LOVES BLACKNESS. Too many have denied this basic truth for too long. Our choice to align ourselves with love and not hate requires both a rejection of racism and a positive proclamation that God delights in Black lives.”
But don’t all lives matter?
Saying unequivocally that “Black Lives Matter” in no way means that all lives do not matter. It is rather an acknowledgment that many lives –
specifically Black lives – are systemically devalued. As a community that tries to follow Jesus, we proclaim that such a devaluation of our siblings is an affront to the Living God. The Confession of Belhar reminds us “that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged.” Specificity toward
Black lives is necessary, particularly in this moment, so that we may acknowledge and address the inequities that prevent the whole community from living as if all lives matter.
Does that mean we are claiming affiliation with the Black Lives Matter organization?
As an organization, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has no affiliation or official status with the BlackLives Matter Movement. Presbyterians across the country are members of Black Lives Matter GlobalNetwork chapters, and many congregations actively support BLM efforts in their local communities.
I’m sorry, but I just cannot agree with supporting the Black Lives Matter organization. We understand there are those in our communion who do not agree with positions of the Black LivesMatter Movement as they understand them. Presbyterians have always been invited to use discernment in matters of faith and practice, understanding that
We have never been required to be in lockstep with matters such as these....However, in our discernment we must be careful that we do not expect that we, a majority-white institution, may determine the path of liberation and equity for Black people, nor should we expect
that we may “correct” the goals and methodologies developed by any community we seek to support.
In all justice efforts, we must be led by the ones who are impacted. Black Lives Matter provides a way forward formulated for and by Black people. And we need not wait for complete agreement with every position before we act in ways that are loving, bold and (again) directed by the communities withwhom we want to align.
I fear that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is getting too political and hopping onto the latest bandwagon.
Presbyterians have long been “political.” Civic engagement has always been part of the life of the
church....But before all these things, Christians were calling Je
sus “Lord,” which is a civic designation.Christianity is inherently political. The word “political” has its root in the Greek word for “people.”
Jesus commanded us to love God and neighbor. Our faith can never be extricated from our concernsfor people. Affirming that Black Lives Matter is very much in line with who we are as Presbyterians, and while thegospel of Jesus Christ is political, it is not partisan. It is not in service to any one political party orleaning, but challenges all of us to have righteous relationships with one another. We believe that justice for the oppressed is not and should not be a partisan value. Justice is a gospel value, one thatall who claim Jesus as Lord should hold. We may have different ideas of how to live into the value,but as Christians we are beholden to it.
Some of the information contained in this document has been sourced from the PC(USA)’s “Presbyterian Week of Action”
God is the Creator who crafted the universe and everything in it. We know and worship God as a Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God reaches out to the creation in love, in ongoing acts of creation, redemption, and empowerment.
About Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. He embodies God’s fierce love for the creation and all humanity. Through his life, death and resurrection, God offers us forgiveness and the opportunity to renew our relationship with God now and forever. Christ’s righteousness judges us, in both our sin but also in our efforts at righteousness. Being Christ’s disciples means putting God first and loving our neighbors as ourselves. The Holy Spirit helps us to follow God’s path, which is revealed most clearly in Jesus’ life and teaching.
God has created all people in God’s image in a mysterious and wondrous manner that gives us the power to reflect God’s image and love to all, and thus glorify our creator. But we all fall short, breaking our relationship with God and other humans through sin. But God does not abandon us. We are forgiven, redeemed and made whole by Jesus Christ. We see all believers as grateful people, who are joining together to live more fully into God.
About the Bible
As Presbyterians, we are guided by Scripture. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the church universal, and God’s word to us. Our worship, our life together, and our service to God is set through our engagement with the Scriptures.
About the Church’s Mission
With Presbyterians across the country, we see the mission of the church as organized under 6 Great Ends. These are
o the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
o the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
o the maintenance of divine worship;
o the preservation of the truth;
o the promotion of social righteousness;
o and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
We work together to fulfill these aims that we believe come from the Spirit, speaking to the Church through the scriptures.
About the Church
God is a Trinity, a never ending communal expression of love. In God’s making humanity in the divine image, God created humans for community lived through love. That is what we seek to be as the church: the community that God created us for and that Jesus has called us into through his power. While we are Presbyterians, we recognize that there are other Christian churches that are expressions of God’s love. We join them in glorifying God and in working to spread God’s love in the world.
About Differences Among People
As Presbyterians, we recognize that all people are created in the image of God, for God’s own mysterious and awe-inspiring purposes. We welcome all people, without regard for gender, age, race, ability, sexual orientation, or other differences to come and participate in the reception of God’s overwhelming love. We see all people as sinners whom God loves and forgives, drawing us into new lives of joy in God’s power.