January 7, 2021
 
Dear Minnesota Valleys Presbytery,
 
Greetings in the name of Christ. Yesterday, our country was attacked by what is now called a domestic insurrection. Today, we are trying to make sense of these events. Not only were attempts made by radical groups to overthrow democracy, we also are aware that the events were encouraged by a sitting president. Yesterday we beheld the worst of what happens when hate, prejudice, and falsehood go unresolved. The events were shameful. Our nation is broken. We cannot move forward without naming the sins that have perpetuated such actions in these days of unrest. Moving forward must include addressing bias in policing, the dehumanizing of people, and political manipulation. Moving forward for the Church must reclaim Jesus as a reconciling agent.
 
Jesus was a man of peace. Jesus challenged injustice through love, compassion, and appealing to the better sides of individuals. Jesus was not a part of yesterday’s mayhem. We cannot, through simple words change the woundedness of society. However, we are called to center our actions in theology. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the Confession 1967 affirmed the following:
“God has created the people of the earth to be one universal family. In reconciling love, God overcomes the barriers between sisters and brothers and breaks down every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic differences, real or imaginary. The Church is called to bring all people to receive and uphold one another as persons in all relationships of life: in employment, housing, education, leisure, marriage, family, Church, and the exercise of political rights. Therefore, the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination and ministers to those injured by it. Congregations, individuals, or groups of Christians who exclude, dominate or patronize others, however subtly, resist the Spirit of God and bring contempt on the faith which they process.”
(The Book of Confessions, The Confession of 1967-9:44a)
 
Let us join in prayer for our country while also joining in action. Individual advocacy can be as simple as treating others as you would like to be treated. Understand your own places of privilege and use your power and influence for justice. Hold higher standards for those in leadership. Be accountable to one another and also the faith we proclaim. In all things, we are told to put our trust in Christ.
 
Finally, let us affirm our faith through the Confession of 1967 “With an urgency born of this hope, the Church applies itself to present tasks and strives for a better world. It does not identify limited progress with the kingdom of God on earth, nor does it despair in the face of disappointment and defeat. In steadfast hope, the Church looks beyond all partial achievement to the final triumph of God.”
 
Below is a prayer to assist you in praying for the country at this time from the Book of Common Worship, “Prayer during a National Crisis”
 
God of ages, in your sight nations rise and fall, and pass through times of peril. Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and save. May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search your will and see it clearly. If we have turned from your way, help us to reverse our ways and repent. Give us your light and your truth to guide us; through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.
 
May God’s Grace Be with You,
 
Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley, Executive Presbyter
Rev. Pamela Prouty, Stated Clerk