The Session at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church, a congregation in Chatham County, has issued an appeal reflecting how this congregation views the social and political unrest that is now defining public discourse in America.
The full statement:
“We are grateful to worship God in a nation that explicitly protects our freedom to do so. We affirm the freedom of others to practice as they so choose, whether they profess different creeds, a different faith, or no faith at all.
“We know we are living in a troubled world. We are angered by injustice, we are grief-stricken by senseless violence, we are heartbroken by cruelty. But we renounce attempts to use our anger and grief and heartbreak to stoke fear. We reject messages that tell us to be afraid of outsiders. We condemn the persecution of and discrimination against believers and non-believers around the world, regardless of whether such actions target and victimize Christians, Muslims, atheists, or those of other faiths.
“We remember that God’s perfect love drives out fear (I John 4:18)
“We will, with God’s help, work to do as God commands, practicing forgiveness, standing up for those who are persecuted, and welcoming one another, as Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)”
The Rev. Mindy Douglas, pastor, said the church’s session (elected members who oversee spiritual life in a Presbyterian congregation) has been alarmed by the number of groups and individuals making public statements in recent weeks that call for exclusion of refugees who are Muslim.
“We believe the church should not remain silent on this issue,” she said. “We believe fear has been the driving force behind such statements. In our appeal we refer to I John 4 and are reminded that perfect love drives out fear. Our first calling is to care for those in need, particularly the poor, the hungry, and the stranger.
“We believe our faith calls us to condemn persecution and discrimination in any form and against any people, Christian or not,” she said.
She noted that this kind of appeal is being circulated nationally and has been signed by thousands of church leaders from different denominations.
As of Jan. 25, 2,618 church leaders and members have signed, according to an online update. They represent many different backgrounds and denominations, small town pastors and pastors of large city churches, lay leaders, presidents of eight Presbyterian seminaries, Hispanic evangelical church leaders, Pentecostals and evangelical leaders, African American church leaders, Lutherans, Calvinists, Catholic friars and sisters, Baptist pastors and Methodist leaders.
Locally, Bishop Will Willimon, who teaches at Duke Divinity School, signed on and made a comment.
“Like many other United Methodists, I have been concerned by the barrage of political rhetoric we have been subjected to in the past few weeks. I’ve received some great sermons from pastors attempting to help their congregations think like Christians about matters of terrorism, immigration and our responsibility to our sisters and brothers in other faiths.
“Of particular concern is that some candidates are invoking, in utterly inappropriate ways, the Christian faith as a rationale for their words and deeds,” he said.
Minister’s widow to speak at Duke
Jennifer Pinckney, widow of the Rev. Clements C. Pinckney, who was among nine killed last year in the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., will take part in a roundtable conversation Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Duke University.
The event “Reflections on Faith and Race” takes place at 7 p.m. at Page Auditorium. The conversation is free and open to the public, but attendees are are required to get tickets in advance. The event is part of the John Hope Franklin Afro-Diasporic Legacies Series hosted by Duke’s Franklin Humanities Institute.
The Rev. Kylon Middleton and the Rev. Chris Vaughn, both close friends of Pinckney and her husband, will join the discussion. The Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, assistant research professor of theological ethics and black church studies at Duke, will moderate the discussion.
The three will discuss issues such as race and faith, anti-black violence and reconciliation and then answer questions from the audience and via social media.
Free tickets are available at the Duke Box Office at the Bryan Center. They are also available online or by phone, 919-684-4444.
A later ‘Listen’
Because of the recent winter storm, Trinity Institute’s “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations on Race” has been rescheduled for Thursday and Friday, Feb. 5-6, at St. Luke’s Episcopal, 1737 Hillandale Road in Durham.
This is a live telecast sponsored by Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in New York City and is being made available locally by St. Luke’s Episcopal. Speakers include Bishop Michael Curry, who was bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina until this past summer when he was elected Presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the first African-American to hold the position.
Register at tinyurl.com/trinityinstreg. The cost is $25 with scholarships available. Dinner will be served on Friday night and lunch on Saturday.
Questions may be directed to Boykin Bell at the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-442-2565. Conference hours are Thursday, 6:30 to 9 p.m. ; Friday, 8:30 to 5:15 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Contact Flo Johnston at email@example.com or call 910-361-4135.