Our Calling Amidst the Chaos
Dear People of God in the Congregation of First Presbyterian, Greer,

The tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the outbreak of pent-up pain and rage from the scourge of racism that stills is burrowed into the core of our being as a nation presents us with a calling as followers of Christ. This illness of racism is not lingering in a faraway place. It is all around us just like the virus of this pandemic. And as a predominantly white congregation we are presented with a challenge.

President Brian K. Blount of Union Presbyterian Seminary, my seminary, a brilliant New Testament scholar who is a person of color, puts it this way:  

Why does our country need white Christians to witness more than they are? More now even than black Christians and black people of every faith and of no faith?

Whether it’s individual acts of brutality or systemic oppression, it is hard to maneuver successfully for change when your hands are shackled, your legs are taken out from beneath you, and someone is kneeling on your neck. You need the people who wield economic, political, police, and military power to reign in the agents they have authorized to act on their behalf, to rain down change upon the systems their forebears have spent centuries erecting. To privilege themselves.

You need them to witness.

Not just spiritually. Tangibly. Not just with well-intentioned prayer. With concrete action. Not just from the pulpit and in the sanctuary. Out in the world, on the streets of their cities, in the corridors of their power.

No, this evil of enduring American racism is not just a Christian problem. But for a people who claim to follow a Jesus who died on a cross for all people, and whom we claim reigns in heaven interceding with God for all people, it is an evil we must especially engage. We cannot claim to witness to this risen Christ and simultaneously allow our country’s descent into this racial abyss.

We Christian people can make a difference. We must help defeat this draconian, systemic evil.

To this end, and with the blessing of your Session, I invite you to participate in two offerings available through the church.

The first is, Better When We’re Together , an online program shared by the Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte which will be led in our congregation by Berry French. It is 21 day challenge to listen to voices we usually do not hear confronting the inequities that grow out of racism in our country and reflect on them. Please note Berry’s article about this program below.
The second is an invitation particularly to parents (and grandparents) to read together a book by the American Baptist pastor and professor, Dr. Jennifer Harvey, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America . Those accepting this challenge would read a chapter of the book, gathering via Zoom for reflection on the chapter each week, over an eight week period. If interested in joining this book reading please email Lisa Johnson our Administrative Assistant at the church lisaj@fpcgreer.org .

As Dr. Blount says, “we Christian people can make a difference.” I believe it is time for us to do so.

Grace and peace,

Pete Peery
Interim Pastor

Take the 21 Day Race Equality Challenge...

In response to the national unrest around issues of racial justice, and as a follower of Jesus Christ – who often went out of his way to care especially for the vulnerable and the outsider – you are invited and urged to join Berry, Jennifer and Travis Olmert, and hundreds of other Presbyterians, in the 21 day Race Awareness Challenge. Please read more at Better When We're Back Together . This is a digital platform Race Equality Challenge that invites Christians to read/watch/listen to a brief presentation on issues of race every day for the next 21 days. 
It is being hosted by Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. They have curated digital resources available every day to choose from to increase your racial awareness. Some options only require a few minutes, others will take more time. There are also resources for children. Berry will host our own FPC Greer Zoom discussions on our individual thoughts, responses, and questions on June 14th and June 22nd. Myers Park Presbyterian will have larger Zoom gatherings on June 7th and June 21st. Please reach out to Berry if you have any questions, or browse the website: myersparkpres.org/project/better-when-were-back-together/
Our whole church family is invited to take the challenge!  

The image at the top of this email is called "Jesus Wept" it is by Hannah Garrity with A Sanctified Art LLC. www.sanctifiedart.org
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