Joint Statement on Racial Justice and Becoming a Matthew 25 Church
The First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak has long provided support to individuals and organizations at the forefront of fighting the effects of poverty and homelessness in metro Detroit: Cass Community Social Services, the Welcome Inn, Gleaners, and Habitat for Humanity. However, recent events of violence against black and brown people demonstrate that our responses to these problems, while important, fall far short when it comes to addressing the pernicious inequality and injustice that too often lies at their core. As Christians who believe in God’s justness, it is imperative that our church speak clearly on issues of racial justice and recognize that we have a role to play in building God’s beloved community.
To advance that role, the Session voted on June 16, 2020 to become a
Matthew 25 church. Matthew 25 is an initiative of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to “embrace Jesus’ call in Matthew 25:31-46 to take our living faith into our communities and the world” and to “live out true discipleship by acting boldly, compassionately and fearlessly serving people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.” As a Matthew 25 church, we are called to embrace these three areas of focus:
Dismantling structural racism by fearlessly applying our faith to advocate and break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color.
Eradicating systemic poverty by acting on our beliefs and working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor.
Building congregational vitality by deepening and energizing our faith and growing as joyful leaders and disciples actively engaged with our community as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
To be clear, this is not a time for complacency, nor is it a time to congratulate ourselves for making this statement without following it up with bold action. We cannot say with certainty all of the actions that will come ahead for our church. What we can say is that it is not a time to be silent; it is not a time to be timid. It is not enough to reach out in love, to embrace compassion, or to speak hope if we do not also act for justice. We call on all members of First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak to join us as we take on the difficult but essential cause of racial justice.
The Rev. Emma Nickel and The Session
of the First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak
To read more about the Matthew 25 initiative click here. You can also learn more about the three focus areas by clicking on each one: dismantling structural racism, eradicating systemic poverty, building congregational vitality.