Letter from the CPC GA Moderator
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. (Colossians 4:6 -The Message).
This scripture comes to mind as I reflect on a recent (June 18,2020) ZOOM forum, “Can you hear me now? Listening to Cumberland Presbyterian Voices.” The intent of the online forum (hosted by the Cumberland Presbyterian House of Studies at Memphis Theological Seminary) was to provide space for all to say what needs to be said and hear what needs to be heard as it relates to racism and how each of us can become part of the transformation and healing God wills. About 50 of us from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (CPC) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America (CPCA) gathered for two hours of conversation. It was good to see persons in leadership positions in both denominations present. I did see there were some who attended who are very vocal in various social media arenas. I have to say I had hoped that more of the CPC denominational leadership at all levels, as well as others who I see are highly active in social media and other venues, would have been present. The conversation on eradicating racism and its consequences of injustice and oppression needs many more voices and lots more solution-oriented action if we together are going to make a difference as Cumberland Presbyterians.
There are many takeaways from the forum for me, but two stand out. The CPCA moderator, Rev. Dr. Acklin, commented that the place to start is to admit racism exists and then develop strategic plans on how to eradicate it. A CPCA pastor said that he wants less focus on history and more focus on action. He went on to say we should figure out what it is we need to do, how to do it and what steps to take. Both comments point to the need for solution-oriented action.
In my letter to the CPC dated June 1, 2020, I wrote about how since the CPC day of prayer and fasting on Ash Wednesday 2020 I believe God has been speaking to the CPC, calling us to action. God has been speaking to us first through COVID-19 and now through the reality that racism indeed still exists, whether in individuals, churches, communities and our nation. During this last year as Moderator of the 189th CPC General Assembly I have been talking about how having a culture of prayer and expectation that God, through the Holy Spirit, will renew and revive us. I have talked about how we need to lean into the wind of where the Holy Spirit is leading us. On Ash Wednesday we committed to pray, fast and act, asking God for renewal and revival in the CPC. Now is the time to act as a church. Now is the time for the CPC covenant community to oppose, resist and seek to change all circumstances of oppression by which persons are denied the essential dignity God intends for them in the work of creation. Now is the time for the CPC to be an advocate for all victims and all those whom the law of society treats as less than persons for whom Christ died. I believe that we the Church are at a seminal point in who we are as disciples of Christ called Cumberland Presbyterian. Last night’s forum convinced me even more so that God is calling us to action and living out our Confession of Faith in ways that reflect we live what we say we believe.
Since COVID-19 resulted in the rescheduling of the 190th CPC General Assembly, I find myself remaining as the CPC Moderator for another year. As I pray daily for the CPC, pray for me that I can faithfully listen to God’s voice, be mindful of the lordship of Christ who sought out the poor, the oppressed, the sick and the helpless, and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit as I seek to listen to, and speak to and with the CPC.
Moderator, 189th General Assembly
A list of recent actions taken by both denominations (CPC/CPCA) related to the issues of racism/discrimination (e.g.study papers, statements, resolutions, suggested resources), compiled by the Unified Committee on Theology and Social Concerns.