A COMMUNICATION FROM THE PRESBYTERY OF SAN FRANCISCO – AUDIT SUPPORT TEAM
God has told you, human one, what is good and what does God require from you: but to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8 (Inclusive Version)
With broken hearts we recognize the ongoing, horrific acts of violence, mass murder, discrimination, intimidation, and oppression towards Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). We also recognize that these acts are outward signs of a pervasive systemic racism that has been part of our cultures since the beginnings of this country. We are a diverse Presbytery and we acknowledge that all of us have personally and collectively suffered greatly under our racist systems and from racist behaviors. We recognize that freedom from oppression for all people is deeply connected to freedom from oppression of any person and that it is our duty and responsibility to challenge systems of injustice, to confront racism at every level, and to work for the liberation of all people from any existing hatred, violence and dehumanization.
We mourn the victims of violence. We grieve a culture that condones violent behavior. We lament the systems and structures in our society that cause harm to those who are seen as less than and treated as disposable. We confess our complicity as the Church and as individuals in participating in systemic racism. We pray for a world where we recognize our oneness and where all people can live lives of wholeness and peace. But most of all, we vow to call out and stand up against injustice and racism at any and all levels. While we recognize the power of prayer and we trust that God is our source of hope, freedom and love, we also know that God is calling us to partner with God to actively organize to change this world.
We therefore promise to do all in our power to change ourselves, our communities, our churches, and our Presbytery to liberate ourselves from our own racism and to work towards the full expression and celebration of all peoples for their uniqueness and diversity, each made in the image of God! We have been called and convicted to do the hard work of ensuring justice, practicing loving kindness and walking humbly with our God of love into freedom land.
Therefore, we also call upon all the congregations within our Presbytery to join us in:
- Committing to educate ourselves and our communities about the realities of racism within our history and within our current cultures
- Interrogating our own complicity in perpetuating white supremacy and systemic racism
- Remembering that our faith calls us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, uplifting the marginalized and challenging the mighty
- Dismantling racism and white supremacy at every level
- Taking action to dismantle the systems that support and allow white supremacy and racism to continue
- Making restitution for the harm that has been done to our siblings and communities of color
- Imagining and creating new systems where racism is not tolerated
As we continue to pray and seek solutions, we invite your voices to be part of our continued work. We choose to move forward in our commitment to being a Matthew 25 Presbytery by naming the harms, restoring relationships, making amends, seeking restitution for the harms which have been done, as well as changing our policies in our movement towards equity and healing. As a beginning step in this work, the Presbytery of San Francisco will be launching an internal racism audit in the fall of 2022. The audit team will examine the history of our Presbytery as well as listen to voices long silenced. They will amplify those voices and commend concrete actions which aim to transform the Presbytery into an antiracist community.
We trust these words from John 3:17: For God did not send God’s Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. And we know that together, with our loving and Gracious God, we can do this work.
Rev. Dr. Barbara Barkley, Co-Moderator of Presbytery of San Francisco
Elder Mustapha Baksh, Co-Moderator of Presbytery of San Francisco
Rev. Talitha Amadea Aho, Chair of Mission and Vision Leadership Committee, Presbytery of San Francisco
Rev. Kamal Hassan, Pastor, Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
Elder Linda Spencer, Montclair Presbyterian Church
Elder Lori Yamauchi, Old First Presbyterian Church