Racial Justice

"what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Our country, city, and church are wrestling with the reality of racism in America and our role in it. As we join our siblings in Christ and pray about how we may be part -- right now -- of God's redemptive work, let us not forget we worship a God who calls us to contribute what we have to the faithful work of the gospel. Listen for your unique call to be a witness to the God who hears the cries of the suffering.

May these resources be companions on the journey as you discern what God might ask of you, of us, as bold and courageous witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ.

"Listen, lament, repent, witness. By God's grace, with Christ's abiding presence, through the Holy Spirit who lives within and among us,
let us respond to the call of this day."

Rev. Chris Henry


The Tenant Crisis:
What's Going On and What You Can Do
Watch Livestream of April 24 Forum

The Tenant Crisis:
What's Going On and What You Can Do
Watch Livestream of April 24 Forum

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    Liturgy for a Hurting World

    As people of God, we pray.

    As a church dispersed and a church deployed, we recognize the ways the Spirit gathers us together in prayer and mobilizes us for mission. At this critical hour, faithful disciples of Jesus Christ must respond with humility and action to the injustices facing our siblings. The pastoral staff of Second has created this prayer liturgy to guide this faithful work we are called to embrace. We invite you to pray alone, with your family, perhaps a neighbor, or within your small group.

    You may also listen to the powerful prayers offered by Rev. Chris Henry and Rev. Gracie Payne.


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    Recommendations from Second staff members

    As people of God, we seek compassion through the lens of others' experience. We read their stories.

    Challenged as a people of God to listen, lament, repent, and witness – we are called to thoughtfully engage the voices of those who are speaking profoundly about their own experience and practical steps forward. Below you will find texts, podcasts, and movies that the staff of Second Presbyterian Church have studied on the topics of race, racism, whiteness, activism, and faith. To sharpen and equip one another with resources along the journey of faith, we invite you into these stories. Please do reach out to the staff member who suggested the resource to learn more about the content and their experience with it. We are on this road together. Let us pray as we read to learn. Blessings as you continue to listen.

    Downloadable pdf of staff recommendations


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    Resources from PC(USA)

    As people of God, we learn who we are called to be. We learn through the calling of our faith.

    What we believe:
    As Presbyterians, we are a confessional/credal people. This means that we believe one of the ways that God reveals Godself throughout time is through the statements of belief, confessions, and creeds of the church. In this time and place, three of the confessions found in our Book of Confessions seem to speak directly to us now. 
    Read this document to learn more about these essential Presbyterian texts.

    From the Presbyterian Mission Agency of Presbyterian Church (USA):


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    Join a group to discuss these issues

    As people of God, we disciple one another. We study as a body of Christ, and we carry these lessons out into the world as God's sent people.

    Many groups at Second are discussing racism, racial reconciliation, and our role in structural racism. See the Read section for recommendations from our clergy and staff, or consider walking through the 21-Day Racial Justice Challenge set forth by PC(USA).

    We invite you to join with others in classes and study groups addressing these important topics. Visit SecondChurch.org/Adult to see current offerings. Are you interested in starting a new group? Contact Dr. John Franke.

    Your group might appreciate these study materials, including summaries and discussion questions:

    Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew G.I. Hart

    "I Am Not Your Negro" movie written by James L. Baldwin and featuring the voice of Samuel L. Jackson.

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    Take the 21-Day Challenge

    As people of God, we put movement to our prayers. We act with conviction and clarity as we embrace the faithful work we are called to do.

    Among the many resources available for personal growth and group study are:


    What can we do to help dismantle structural racism?

    Confronting deeply ingrained racist systems and structures in our communities and country takes sensitivity and stamina. Before congregations and worshiping communities can confront the harsh realities of racism, it is helpful to have a good foundation.

    One good place to start is by taking the 21-Day Racial Justice Challenge, which is well suited to individuals, churches and mid councils. The challenge invites us to do something every day to raise awareness about the perniciousness of racism and encourage action in response to that awareness. The PC(USA) has joined several nonprofits, organizations and school systems in adapting the challenge for our use. Here is an example of how the challenge works:

    Day 1. Read the PC(USA) churchwide anti-racism policy, “Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community,” at facingracism.org.

    Day 2. Study the Week One lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.

    Day 3. Watch an updated version of the Clark doll experiment, which explores how early-in-life ideas of racial inferiority and superiority are internalized.

    Day 4. Study the Week Two lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.

    Day 5. Read the resolution of the 223rd General Assembly of the PC(USA) on environmental racism.

    Day 6. Watch the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s webinar, “Impact of Environmental Injustice on Low Income and Communities of Color.”

    Day 7. Read what youth at the 2016 Triennium learned about environmental racism.

    Day 8. Study the Week Three lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.

    Day 9. Choose a resource on the Doctrine of Discovery to read from facingracism.org.

    Day 10. Watch the PBS documentary “Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools.”

    Day 11. Take the awareness test. Go out and change what you notice.

    Day 12. Study the Week Four lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.

    Day 13. Read the Confession of Belhar. Reflect on how your church is using and living into it.

    Day 14. Visit the Presbyterian Intercultural Network’s website. Connect with a chapter near you or inquire about creating one.

    Day 15. Study the Week Five lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.

    Day 16. Watch the TED Talk “How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them” by Verna Myers.

    Day 17. Read “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.

    Day 18. Study the Week Six lesson from the Facing Racism Study Guide.

    Day 19. Notice the structures and practices in your church. Raise questions about how they help or hinder racial equity.

    Day 20. Engage: Suggest studying the Facing Racism Study Guide as a church or mid council to your leaders.

    Day 21. Act: Commit to doing the challenge again. Invite someone to join you.

    The theology behind dismantling structural racism

    Racism is anti-Christian. In 2016, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a comprehensive churchwide anti-racism policy called “Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community.” The policy states:

    Racism is a lie about our fellow human beings, for it says that some are less than others. It is also a lie about God, for it falsely claims that God favors parts of creation over the entirety of creation. Because of our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) must stand against, speak against and work against racism. Anti-racist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    Structural racism is not only the “opposite of what God intends for humanity,” but is also an example of how sin is systemic rather than simply personal. As the PC(USA)’s anti-racism policy states, “Reformed theology offers a nuanced understanding of sin. Calvin did not understand sin to be simply an individual belief, action, or moral failing (Calvin, 1960). Rather, he viewed sin as the corporate state of all humanity. It is an infection that taints each of us and all of us. No part of us — not our perception, intelligence, nor conscience — is unclouded by sin.”

    Psalm 14:3 and Romans 3:10 remind us, “There is no one just, not even one.” The PC(USA)’s policy also reminds us that this realization “does not mean that human beings are awful. Rather, it means that we must have humility about our own righteousness, and that we must cling to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.”

    Scriptures for study and reflection

    Matthew 25:31–46
    Genesis 1:1–31
    Psalm 104
    Acts 10:9–23
    1 John 4:7–8
    Ephesians 2:19
    Isaiah 65:17–25
    Micah 6:8
    Mark 7:27–28


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