Elder Statement to Highland: Racial Reconciliation - July 5, 2020
In Genesis 1 God declares, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” So “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.” This belief, that every human being has been created in the image of God, sits at the heart of the gospel. As Christians, we believe that each and every life is of immeasurable value and worth. Everyone has been created in the image of God, but this truth has not been our reality.
At different times and places throughout history, some lives have mattered more than others. In America, from before the founding of our nation, from slavery to segregation and beyond, white lives have been systemically more valued than black lives. We confess and lament that this has also been reflected in the Christian church. At Highland, we have taken steps in the past to confront and address this evil in our church, however, we can still do more to confront these underlying injustices and assume them as our collective responsibility.
As leaders of Highland, we declare that black lives matter. This statement is not a partisan endorsement of a political party, organization, or policy proposal. Instead, for us it is a truth rooted in the very heart of the gospel. Black lives matter because our vision is to restore Highland, Abilene and the world. So where any of the children of God have been systemically diminished or devalued, we must boldly say that their lives matter to us, that their pain is our pain, and that their hopes and dreams are our hopes and dreams.
While we begin to work on long term approaches reflecting this posture, we want to make you aware of one upcoming effort called “Embodied.” The goal of this project is to raise our awareness about what it feels like to live in Abilene and attend Highland as a person of color. The stories that will be shared are to remind us that, through our baptism, we are all members of the one body of Christ, and that what happens to one body affects every body in the family of God.
In moving forward, the Highland staff and elders are committed to learning and listening to ways that we can move from being primarily passive observers of racial injustice to holy allies working alongside our black brothers and sisters to restore God’s Kingdom. A list of the books being read by the staff and elders can be found on our website, www.highlandchurch.org/resources. Also, the Carl Spain Center at ACU has many resources to stream and download.
Finally, as we begin this journey together, we ask that you join us in prayer. Starting on July 6, the Highland elders and staff will enter a forty-day season of fasting and prayer. There is much to confess, lament and discern, in our own hearts and collectively as a church. The way forward will be difficult and often sacrificial, but our God goes before us. Let us be “strong and courageous” as we participate in God’s kingdom and the restoration of all things.