Presbyterian Church Votes to Apologize for Racism

PCA’s racial apology vote passed 861 to 123.
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)’s racial apology vote passed 861 to 123.
Presbyterian Church in America passed Overture to repent the Church’s role in discrimination against minority cultures.

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is the second largest Presbyterian church body in the world. It is the largest conservative reformed denomination in America. It was founded in 1973, nine years after the Civil Rights Act was enacted. Prior to the Act, discrimination based on color, race, sex, religion, and national origin has been rampant throughout the nation. The founding denominational leaders of PCA and its churches were also involved in this discrimination.

Presbyterian Church Votes to Apologize for Racism[/tweetthis]

Last week, PCA passed a legislation (Overture) to repent the Church's role in discriminating against minority cultures, including segregating worshipers based on race, barring black people from Church membership and black churches from joining presbyteries, defending white supremacist organizations and teaching that the Bible sanctioned segregation and opposed interracial marriage. PCA also confessed to failing to confront its members regarding personal bigotry and racial sins. The legislation also commits its members to work toward racial reconciliation.

The path toward taking responsibility for the racial sins and racial reconciliation started 14 years ago. PCA confessed its involvement in the racist bigotry during the civil rights era in 2002. However, it did not take responsibility for specific denominational offenses when it occurred. It was only last year that the issue was raised again, during the PCA annual meeting.

Nine hours of debate saw the Church deciding to offer a specific apology, however, not right away. Time was given to churches to study the PCA’s complicity. The goal was to offer a more heartfelt and accurate repentance.

According to pastor Lane Keister of PCA, corporate repentance takes more time than individual repentance. Getting an entire denomination to repent fully takes time. Another advantage of delaying the apology has been that the Church was able to keep the focus on racism for an entire year, says Wy Plummer, the coordinator of PCA’s African American ministries. If the Church had passed the resolution straight away, they would have gone to sleep on the issues of the race again.

2016 saw more than two-thirds of the 63 PCA overtures calling for the denomination’s repentance. The overture that admitted the Church's involvement in racial discrimination, and its failure in pursuing racial reconciliation, passed 861 to 123.

Ambassador for International Christian Response, K. A. Ellis, expressed his happiness to be present during this historic moment in the history of racial reconciliation, through Twitter. Russell Moore, SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee, tweeted his thanks to the members of PCA for their racial unity and repentance. The Confederate flag was repudiated by SBC, last week.

The final overture that got passed also has information on how to deal with those who have sinned in matters of race.


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