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Presbytery Letter: In Solidarity With Black Lives

“. . . if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” – John 20:23

Beyond the Covid19 pandemic, as we watch what is unfolding before us in cities across the United States, we know that the sin of racism is alive and continues to be “retained” in our society. In the past week, we all have been witnesses, again of a Black man dying at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve, but misuse this as power instead. In the past few months, we have witnessed more Black lives taken from us at the hands of others in power. The ones we know about include George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. And there are more that we don’t know about because they were not recorded by those who witnessed it. Every day Black Americans face spiritual, psychological and physical deaths at the hands of those in power. Racism is alive and it even exists here in the Bay Area, known as one of the most liberal places in America.

In our Presbytery, we have 68 churches and 10 New Worshipping Communities. A third of our congregations and missional communities are racial ethnic communities of which 8 are African American.

As the staff of the Presbytery of San Francisco, we stand in solidarity with all of our African American brothers and sisters. We promise to do our part to combat racism in all forms because we know that the sin of racism kills the souls of our brothers and sisters and prohibits the full flourishing of the life that God has created and given us. We strive to help co-create with you a world that is more just and loving and devoid of the sin of structural racism.

We invite you To Break Our Hearts Open; hear some of the Black voices of our Presbytery:

  • Michael Kim-Eubanks, ministry co-leader from Bethel PC in San Leandro, who has expressed his voice through words and the creation of this song – Video and Lyrics to “Just a Few”
  • Rev. Dr. Charles Tinsley, Honorably Retired, who shares his words of wisdom from his lived-experiences by letting us know “What Should We Be Doing”, and
  • Rev. Kamal Hassan from Sojourner Truth PC who preached about the “Love Languages” and how the Holy Spirit comforts us as we lament; how the Holy Spirit advocates for us through affirmative justice; and how the Holy Spirit uses wind and fire to help us in our righteous struggle.

We will be sharing a few links with you that will capture more of these Black voices from our Presbytery and denomination. One of the voices is from J. Herbert Nelson, the Stated Clerk of the PCUSA. And there will be other voices shared on our website including the prophetic voice of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (See links below)

We invite you, members of the Presbytery of San Francisco, to add your voices, too. What are you lamenting about, what you are advocating for and what do you propose as a way to express our righteous struggle? We want to hear from you and what you’re feeling.

May God continue to provide wisdom and guidance during this time while we continue to pray without ceasing for you, our presbytery and our world.

With Love and Care,
Your Transitional Presbytery Staff
Rochelle R. Shaw, Stated Clerk
Rev. InHo Kim, Partner for Congregational Vitality and Clergy Support
Rev. Leonard Nielson, Partner for Finance and Property Assets
Jennifer Sacramento-Streett, Partner for Operations and Presbytery Wide Communications