Dear Family of Faith,
In my last message, I invited you to join me as we confront racism together. In this regard, I’m asking you to take an important next step. Join the Presbytery of Baltimore for an online Zoom worship service Wednesday, August 19, at 7pm, from the comfort of your own home. The struggle to end racism in America and in our church is hard work. I believe it requires hope and faith. This worship service promises to be powerful and uplifting. Most importantly, it will be a source of strength for our hearts and souls, much needed if we are to do the difficult work of dismantling racism once and for all and for making the Presbytery of Baltimore all God intends it to be. Mark your calendars and click here to register.
It’s been about a month since our virtual General Assembly (GA). In a perfect world, Baltimore would have been the place to elect our first indigenous co-moderator, Ruling Elder, Elona Street-Stewart, along with African American Teaching Elder, Gregory Bentley. You see, our presbytery authored overtures at the 222nd GA: one to dismantle racism in our denomination and society at large and another apologizing to Native Americans for our complicity in the “stolen generations.” Both overtures were approved overwhelmingly. Yet, despite these positive steps, we still must deal with some deeply embedded racist polity. And because GA was virtual for the first time ever, leaders stressed our mid councils must do the necessary work for justice during the next 2 years, through local action and not The Book of Order.
Friends, I have been humbled by the honor of being your moderator. It has been a joy and yet painful at times. I have anguished as we have struggled with racism in our society and in our congregations. I grieve for a world ravaged by a pandemic that threatens the continued existence of some of our churches, even as it threatens our very lives. Here in our presbytery, as in most of the country, this virus disproportionately affects and kills our siblings of color. To be God’s inclusive Church, we must acknowledge the pain our history, our systems, and sometimes even we ourselves continue to inflict on others, unintended as it may be. Then, we must work toward a lasting healing process.
We are Presbyterians, following in the Reformed footsteps of John Calvin. We are proud of this heritage. Yet, we remain deeply rooted in some ancient, even hurtful practices that hold us back and leave many of our siblings feeling abused, bruised, and marginalized. My beloved friends, here and now, it is time to do more. It is no longer enough to be reformed. We must transform ourselves into a Church that truly welcomes all of God’s children. The Apostle Paul famously wrote to the early church in Galatia, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NRSV) This was a guiding principle of the early followers of Jesus and a major reason they grew in number. Surely, we must embrace these words, now more than ever.
So, I am joining with the Presbytery’s Dismantling Racism Team, led by Rev. Michael Moore, Rev. Ray Meute, and staff liaison, Susan Krehbiel to begin this transformation. Please join us for the worship service at 7pm on Wednesday, August 19. This is a crucial time in the life of our denomination. The door to God’s truth in love is open. Come with us as we walk boldly through this door together. May God continue to bless and grace this Presbytery as we strive to do the work Christ calls us and the Holy Spirit leads us to do.
Guy Moody, Moderator,
Presbytery of Baltimore