Ever since learning about the death of George Floyd I’ve struggled personally with the question of how we will respond. I decided very early on, after talking with several of you, and with colleagues, and after spending time on my knees in prayer, that we needed to do some things together. These two sessions, coupled with the Come Grow With Us book/film initiative, are my attempt to bring us ALL along as we seek to enter the uncomfortable territory of looking at the hurting world through the lens of Christ.
To help us begin this process, we’re going to have two discussion evenings on June 24 and July 8 at 7 p.m. on Zoom and we’ll be using the Confession of 1967 and the Belhar Confession as our guides. The Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination has a Book of Confessions as part of the Constitution of the Church. It is quite challenging to add confessions as they become an important part of our denominational fabric. Each individual ordained as a Deacon or Elder stands before the congregation and God and answers several questions. Here some of the questions:
Do you sincerely receive and adopt
the essential tenets of the Reformed faith
as expressed in the confessions of our church
as authentic and reliable expositions
of what Scripture leads us to believe and do,
and will you be instructed and led by those confessions
as you lead the people of God? I do and I will.
Will you fulfill your ministry in obedience
to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture,
and be continually guided by our Confessions? I will.
As you can see, the confessions are extremely important! Among other things, (1) they are expressions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do; (2) we are to be instructed and led by them; and (3) we are to be continually guided by them.
What this means is that when we look at the world around us, including a world that is presently experiencing great pain surrounding the experience and treatment of Black Americans, we are called to be guided by the confessions.
Most Presbyterians, and even most Presbyterian church officers, have not spent much time with the confessions. You’re familiar with some of them – like the Apostles’ Creed – but others of them are a little bit obscure, like the Scots Confession (from 1560) or the Second Helvetic Confession (from 1566). I was originally planning an Adult Education program on the confessions because I love learning about and sharing the historical context of our confessions and then working with them to apply them to our lives and ministry together. That class is on hold! But in the meantime, we’re going to use two of the confessions to help us.
When the recent racial tensions came to the forefront of our news and conversations, I decided that for us, as Presbyterians, and, particularly as suburban and primarily white congregation, it would be helpful for us to pause and get back to our ordination vows and our denominational confessions that can help us understand how “Scripture leads us to believe and do” and how we can be “instructed and led” and “continually guided by our Confessions.”
So that’s the invitation! Will you join me, please, for a conversation as we walk though these confessions together?
The conversations will be a mixture of presentation and discussion using Zoom. The connection information is below and if you need assistance with using Zoom, please reach out to Michelle Hennessy in advance and she can help you.
You are encouraged to read the two confessions beforehand, but if you’re unable to do so, that’s okay – please still attend. Your presence matters and is a part of our growth together.
Please take some time to gain familiarity with Zoom before the meeting. You can learn more about Zoom by clicking here.
You can access the meeting directly by using your computer by clicking this link.
If you are asked for a “Meeting ID” enter: 828 8731 2300.
If you are asked for a “password” enter: 051335
You can also join the meeting using a telephone instead of your computer. Just dial 312-626-6799 from any telephone and enter the meeting ID and password found above.
Here’s a link to a PDF of the Confession of 1967:
Here’s a link to the Belhar Confession: