In December 2014, following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (and other shootings), the John Perkins Center, the Office of University Ministries, and the School of Theology at SPU hosted an ecumenical worship service called “Seattle Evangelicals for Racial Justice.” At that service, SPU disseminated a document declaring our conviction that God is calling American Christians to engage in renewed advocacy on issues of racial justice. Given events of this past year, the need for such advocacy has become amplified; consequently, the School of Theology has determined to re-issue the document—slightly edited to address current concerns. The faculty of Seattle Pacific University’s School of Theology unanimously supports this document, and we invite others into the conversation evoked by the statement. We want to be clear that, by promulgating the document (to cite the wording of the statement), “we make our declaration in humble recognition that justice is not brought about by proclamations alone, but by the redemptive and sanctifying work of the triune God.” Nonetheless, “we affirm this declaration as a marker to shape our work in the congregations, organizations, and institutions we have the privilege of serving.”
Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Action
As Christian leaders, we commit ourselves to the call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to stand with those who experience discrimination and racism. We commit ourselves to challenge expressions of racism occurring in various institutions of our nation, such as law enforcement, the legal system, the educational system, political structures, and the Church.
We repent for the ways Christians have been and still are complicit participants in these injustices. In light of our history and recent events in our nation, we believe it is necessary to reaffirm our commitment to reject ethnic nationalism, injustice, and violence.
We thank God for all who pursue Biblical justice, reconciliation, and the creation of church and civil communities that guard all people’s rights and well-being. We reaffirm God’s call to churches to proclaim and embody the prophetic and redemptive message of our Lord—that true peace and reconciliation require justice.
We make this declaration in humble recognition that justice is not brought about by proclamations alone, but by the redemptive and sanctifying work of the triune God. Lives that fulfill, by grace, the biblical command to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) serve as active signs of God’s salvific work. To that end, we affirm this declaration as a marker to shape our work in the congregations, organizations, and institutions we have the privilege of serving.
- To educate our congregations, organizations, and institutions about all forms of injustice in our society and particularly, at this time, to oppose ethnic nationalism and white supremacy, racial prejudice, and racial discrimination as unbiblical.
- To open our hearts, homes, fellowship, and corporate gatherings to share our lives with people from backgrounds other than our own so that together we may embody the quality of human community God intends for all people to enjoy.
- To participate in alliances and strategies to pursue racial justice in our community, including ensuring access to quality public education for all children, access to quality health care unconstrained by financial means, access to affordable and decent housing, and access to meaningful and life-sustaining work unimpeded by gender, ethnicity, or physical disability.
- To call on our community members to oppose public policies and political actions that further ethnic privilege and prejudice; and to urge our political leaders to support policies that further justice and end systemic racial discrimination.
We make this pledge in reliance on the wisdom and grace of God, and commit our lives and work to be measured by and accountable to the call of the triune God.
Jamie Coles Burnette
Katherine M. Douglass
Laura Sweat Holmes
Sara M. Koenig
J.J. Johnson Leese
Brenda Salter McNeil
Shannon Nicole Smythe