“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet the stones will cry out.”
The World Communion of Reformed Churches expresses its grief, anger, and solidarity over the murder of George Floyd and the many, many other black people who have been killed in the United States by police forces.
In no uncertain terms we condemn this act of police brutality and call on the appropriate authorities on all levels to take quick action to bring the perpetrators to justice and address the long-standing root causes. We call for solidarity against anti-black racism understanding that racism in all its forms and the many ways it intersects with gender, ethnicity, and culture needs to be overcome. Racism has taken from us the lives of women, men, trans-persons, and even children.
We are appalled at the continuing systemic racism that undergirds the brutal violence faced by black communities and call for demolishing the structures of racism and the dismantling of white privilege. As our member church ECO states, “Simply put, racism is wrong. It is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church must work against it.”
We call on our member churches in the United States and elsewhere to commit to undoing the injustice of racism while at the same time acknowledging our complicity in upholding racism and racist theologies, confessing, repenting, seeking forgiveness, and working towards reconciliation and reparations. We lift up the cries of the black community and call for the raising of voices of lament and the joining of hands in resistance.
“America is a society suffering from… a wound that was self-inflicted four hundred years ago through the institution of slavery and has never healed. It is an issue foundational to America. The black/white, slave/free legacy and current mindset must be dealt with before any peoples can be free in this nation,” said a pastoral letter from the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
The Ottawa General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (a predecessor to the WCRC) declared what can be found in the Belhar Confession: “Racism is a sin, and the theological support of racist ideologies is a heresy.” We continue to lift up both this declaration and Confession today and call on all our member churches as well as the global ecumenical community to speak firmly and prophetically against the sin of racism.
Along with the United Church of Christ, we affirm that “we are called to uproot white supremacy in all of its forms.”
With the Presbyterian Church (USA) we affirm blackness by stating, “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.”
We acknowledge that racism is part of a global system of dominance that is intertwined and embedded with an unjust economic system, ecological violence, and patriarchy. In the Accra Confession we declared, “Therefore we reject any theology that claims that God is only with the rich, and that poverty is the fault of the poor. We reject any form of injustice which destroys right relations—gender, race, class, disability, or caste. We reject any theology which affirms that human interests dominate nature.”
We acknowledge that this system has resulted in what we can firmly name as Global Apartheid which seeks the consolidation of the power of few at the cost of the many and particularly those communities who are racialized. With the Evangelical Presbyterian Church we affirm that we are called “to speak out for justice and equality; to speak against racism, injustice, and inequality; and to work to arrest the origins of civil unrest—namely, poverty, racial separation, immorality, and a lack of radical love.”
In this moment of crisis we are called to adequately and deeply discern the signs of the times and to imagine and work towards another world in which the humanity and dignity of each individual is lifted up and the sinful structures of death are brought down. For we know that the Lord requires us “to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
We particularly call on local communities and congregations to address the issue of police brutality by engaging local government agencies to dismantle the culture that encourages, embraces, and uses “use-of-force” policies and to demilitarize police forces.
We further call on churches to have crucial conversations on race and racism that work towards racial justice and specifically call all churches to examine and root out the role white privilege plays in their theology and praxis. Along with the Reformed Church in America we urge all our members to explore how they practically live out the Belhar Confession’s principles of justice, reconciliation, and unity.
We call on our churches and the wider ecumenical community to join in a day of lament, fasting, and prayer on 8 June—and let it only be a start to a continuing struggle for justice.
The World Communion of Reformed Churches represents 100 million Christians and 235 denominations in over 105 countries around the world.