Dear Commissioners & Advisory Delegates: A Briefing of the Issues GA224

Dear Commissioners and Advisory Delegates to the 224th Presbyterian General Assembly, 

Thank you for your service to our church in this year of global pandemic and mass uprisings against white supremacy and police brutality. What a task you have already had and still have before you! We are truly grateful for your leadership in this moment. 

Because of our focus on peacemaking, and our understanding that peace cannot come without justice, we write to encourage you in the decisions before you this General Assembly. We know that this moment of global crisis means that we in the Church must adapt and cannot do business as usual. We also know that this pandemic of white supremacy and of COVID disproportionately affects BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. Because we know some voices may be missing from our General Assembly and/or commissioners may be (rightly and understandably) distracted by all that is going on in the world, we have focused our briefing on items that directly and immediately support racial justice.  

The General Assembly will have the opportunity to consider a few actions that we believe are particularly important in this moment. Our recommendations on these items are: 

  • [095] – SUPPORT  – Native American Coordinating Council Report From the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board 

The assembly removed this item (along with 096) from the referral list and put it on the docket for this General Assembly because of its timeliness. We support the work of the NACC and this report in its entirety because it provides a roadmap for next steps the PC(USA) can take to be in right relationship with Native communities, congregations, and peoples. We also encourage commissioners and advisory delegates to ask to hear from the advocates and/or resource people for this item so that the GA can hear directly from Native people about the urgency of this item. 

  • [096] – SUPPORT –   Native American Church Property Report—From the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board

The assembly removed this item (along with 095) from the referral list and put it on the docket for this General Assembly because of its urgency. We support this report in its entirety. We also encourage commissioners to ask to hear from the advocates and/or resource people for this item to hear more about the reason for the urgency from Native people to center their voices. We encourage you to ask questions about how the Foundation plans to raise the funds for these projects and how the Presbyteries and Synod where the building projects need attention can be better prioritized and resourced both by the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency. It would be appropriate as an Assembly to request that reports on the progress of these repairs be made public to the whole Church on a six-month schedule for the next two years with a fuller report to the next General Assembly.

  • [Info-04] – DISAPPROVE – The Book of Confessions and the Doctrine of Discovery

We do not support this report because it had no Native input. Following the advice of several Native Presbyterian leaders, we encourage the GA to ask for this review of the Book of Confessions to start again from scratch with Native Collaborators who are capable of offering a critical analysis of Presbyterian theology. This report demonstrates neither knowledge of the underlying principles of the Doctrine of Discovery nor of Presbyterian history. It is effectively a way of “whitewashing” the church’s history and theology.

  • [029] – STRENGTHEN – On the Church in This Moment in History—From the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly

We support the intention of this report: to speak to the Church in this moment and to focus the energy of the Church on living out the Gospel mandate to love God and neighbor. However, we believe that to truly speak in this moment the Church must name the evils of white supremacy and colonization that drive the racism from which we must repent as well as name concrete actions toward justice. We support a substitute motion or amendments to include these points. 

To learn more about 095 & 096 specifically and hear from some of the members of the Native American Coordinating Council and the Native American Coordinating Committee, please watch this teach-in on What the PCUSA can do to support Native Sovereignty and Human Rights.

PPF encourages commissioners to summon their creativity to bring these and other truly urgent peace and social justice items of business to the 224th General Assembly.

Who We Are: Founded in 1944, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is an independent nation-wide community of Presbyterian peace advocates and activists. For this virtual GA, we have offered Presbyterian Peace Camp and our traditional Peace Breakfast online for all commissioners, advisory delegates and Presbyterians across the church. 

See these resources and more on our Facebook page or our website

Feel free to contact us if we can be of help in your ministry and mission!