Our ethos is carried out in many ways including acts of justice and mercy in all areas of life. One of the greatest areas of injustice in our nation’s history is racism, which has been called America’s “original sin.” The Overseer Team affirms the following resolution adopted by our denomination, the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), at its 1992 General Conference. The EFCA passed this resolution in the wake of the beating of Rodney King in 1991, but it also speaks broadly to occurrences of racism before and since then. This resolution, with minor adaptations for the context of our local church, reflects the theology and mission of Trinity City Church.
The Sin of Racism
As Christians, we deplore racism as sin against fellow human beings who are created in the image of God. Racism has undergone a recent resurgence with an increase in violence evidenced by racial confrontations on college campuses, numerous racially biased crimes, the increased visibility and boldness of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and various other separatist movements. Racism is also present in more subtle and passive forms in institutional settings where systems of discrimination prevent the upward mobility of gifted and qualified individuals. It is also present in racially discriminatory housing patterns, in the neglect and avoidance of people who are racially different, in the use of racially offensive language and humor, and at the level of individual prejudices and biases which heighten tension and perpetuate misunderstanding between racially different people. Even though our society benefits from progress made in the area of racial harmony during and following the Civil Rights movement, we believe that racism continues to exist and, at the present time, appears to have found renewed energy.
Racism is an irrational belief in the superiority of one's ethnic or racial group causing the hatred of those of another group. Inequalities of economic and political resources and competition for economic and political advantage often causes this irrational belief to surface. In America, this unhealthy attitude of racial and ethnic superiority has resulted in discrimination predominantly by whites against people of color such as Asians, African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics. It also has provoked a racist response against the dominant culture and often heightened tensions between minority groups. God's ideal is that humans exist in harmonious relationships regardless of racial and ethnic differences (Acts 13:1, 1 Cor. 12:12-13, Gal. 3:28, Rev. 5:9-10), but racism militates against the formation of these harmonious relationships.
Resolutions for the Church
Realizing that even as Christians we are not immune to the sin of racism, we resolve first of all to search our own hearts and repent of any racist attitudes we may have no matter how subtle. We further resolve to work toward eliminating racism in our local churches, ministry affiliations, and partner organizations. Some ways in which we can work are:
- Speaking out against racism in whatever setting we find ourselves.
- Preparing spiritually for the inevitable tensions and conflicts which will threaten the unity of the church as it continues to become more multi-ethnic and multi-racial in composition.
- Teaching in our homes and in our churches against racism and noting God's desire for reconciliation between races (Eph. 2:14).
- Developing relationships of mutual education and submission (Eph. 5:21) with people of different races on both an individual and congregational level.
- Celebrating the presence and participation of our brothers and sisters in Christ from all ethnic and racial backgrounds in our local churches, ministry affiliations, and partner organizations.
Dear God, we repent and turn back, that our sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from your presence (Acts 3:19-20). “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name” (Dan. 9:18-19, NIV). In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
See The Gospel, Racism and the EFCA: Resolution (1992) and Resolve for the original resolution.
For more commentary on this issue from EFCA leaders, see also "An Open Letter to Those Who are Struggling," by Alejandro Mandes; and "The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the EFCA, and Racism," by Greg Strand. The concluding prayer above is from Strand's post.