An Update from the Peace and Justice Taskforce

America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans. The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) believes we must acknowledge the truth about our history before we can heal: truth and reconciliation are sequential. Check out the work being done by EJI to reduce systemic poverty and assist some of the most vulnerable people in the Southeast by creating new services and support around hunger and health care:

Join us at the next Peace and Justice Task Force Meeting in January 18th 12:30-1:30 by Zoom. Contact Dawn Bingham for Zoom link.

Peace and Justice Taskforce Summary
of 225th 2022 PCUSA General Assembly Actions

The purpose of the Peace and Justice Task Force is to educate on, and respond to, the issues of peace and justice that affect our community in the spirit of Matthew 25:40. We seek to normalize these conversations in our faith community and advocate for and support efforts to dismantle racism and address discrimination through education, prayer, and community response regarding the systems that perpetuate racism including gun violence and incarceration issues, environmental justice, gender and reproductive justice, and economic mobility issues.

Below, please see a summary of some of the actions that were taken by the General Assembly in support of peace and justice issues. Please contact Dawn Bingham or Jessalyn Story if you would like to participate in the Peace and Justice Taskforce.

Race and Gender Justice

Commissioners and advisory delegates approved several items of business from the Race and Gender Justice Committee (RGJ), including RGJ-07: “A Resolution Addressing the Lack of Installed Pastoral Leadership in People of Color Congregations in the PC(USA) — From the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee” and RGJ-08: “On Offering an Apology to African Americans for the Sin of Slavery and Its Legacy.”

A plenary ended with votes overwhelmingly approving both items, and with a reading aloud of “A Litany of Repentance” found in RGJ-08, which begins with the words: “As white Christians we repent of our complicity in the belief in white supremacy.”

The assembly also approved RGJ-12 calling for a new special committee to expose white supremacy within the denomination and make recommendations for improvement. In addition, the assembly approved RGJ-13, directing the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation to “create educational resources for congregations to identify and interrupt practices and policies that perpetuate the adultification of Black girls and criminalization of adolescent behavior.” Commissioners and advisory delegates passed a resolution, RGJ-14, denouncing violence against Asian women and Pacific Islanders.

Gun violence

General Assembly approved a motion that the church renew its commitment to end gun violence by developing a 10-year campaign, the Decade to End Gun Violence (2022 – 2032). The assembly also voted to direct Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to engage with Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kroger, three publicly traded companies held by either the Board of Pensions or Presbyterian Foundation, that sell guns not classified as semi-automatic and assault-based weapons.

Reproductive Justice:

The overwhelming support vote by the 225th General Assembly affirms women’s and pregnant people’s moral capacity to choose when and if to be pregnant. Approved by a vote of 348-38, HSB-11 affirms that women and pregnant people are full moral agents, created in the image of God, and it supports their moral capacity to decide whether to continue or end any given pregnancy. It also denounces attempts to prevent people from receiving essential health care and rejects attempts at all levels of government to reduce, limit or eliminate access to contraceptive and abortion care.

Environmental Justice:

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted July 6 to divest from five oil and gas companies it concluded are not moving quickly enough to try to slow global warming — Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy. With no debate and no amendments, the assembly voted 340-41 to approve ENV-10, following the recommendation from the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to divest from the five firms.

Carbon offset fund. The GA also approved ENV-04, a carbon offset program that provides a way for Presbyterians to donate to a fund to offset the carbon impact of work-related air travel by Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) employees.

Investing in a green future. The GA voted to approve, with comment, ENV-02, authorizing the study and recommendations from an Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy paper called “Investing in a Green Future: A Vision for a Renewed Creation,” on environmental justice and environmental racism.