Responding to racism wasn’t on the agenda. Plans for the first-ever virtual General Assembly pared the agenda down to the minimum required to keep the PC(USA) going for another two years, until the next GA. But commissioners (including our own Miriam Dewhurst) made sure that what was originally “out of order” would be very much “in order,” in the form of a resolution adopted by the 2020 General Assembly:
This 224th General Assembly of the PC(USA) declares that Black lives matter. … We pledge to join hands and hearts with our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) siblings to actively confront and dismantle systemic racism in our church and in society at large, and to work for a more just, merciful, and peaceful country that allows all of God’s children to flourish.
So begins “On the Church in This Moment in History – Responding to the Sin of Racism.” The resolution confesses complicity with systemic racism and white privilege and calls for the PC(USA) at all levels, from General Assembly offices to congregations, to study task force reports that were postponed to the 2022 GA, and to develop and adopt antiracism policies. “This work can be done now at all levels, even in advance of the 225th General Assembly, at which time that General Assembly can act on setting a constitutional requirement to do so if it chooses.”
The motion passed 407-72, and some critiqued it for not going far enough. For more details on the process, talk to our own Miriam Dewhurst, a commissioner to the General Assembly who was actively involved in getting this motion to a vote. Read an article about the motion in Presbyterian Outlook here and download the full text of the resolution below.