Statement from the Session: October 21, 2016

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Statement from the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church of San Francisco
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

After listening to the multiple voices of our congregation, and after many hours of prayerful deliberation, the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church has respectfully made the following decision in regard to the rainbow flag and Black Lives Matter banner which have hung inside and outside our building for the past several months.

On the outside: We have agreed upon a replacement banner which continues to speak to our commitment to every neighbor, while adding a scriptural reference to this commitment and an emphatic invitation to continue the dialogue on critical issues of our time. While we are aware that not everyone in the congregation will agree with the presence of this new banner-statement, we believe it encompasses and respects the views of the large majority. Most importantly, we believe it correctly reflects the commandments to do justice and to love our neighbors.

On the inside: Banners more fully explaining the scriptural precepts by which we seek to live will be hung, as a further explanation and invitation to dialogue.

Over the years our congregation has often wrestled with what the role of the church should be in addressing important issues. The Session believes that role, as Jesus calls us to fill it, is to stand with others in the search for equality and justice – especially with our neighbors who are facing particular oppression today. We see this as consistent with the historical record of Calvary Presbyterian Church, which has stood with persecuted groups many times since our founding 162 years ago.

There are four roles we believe Calvary can play:

  1. Leadership – We believe we should be leaders in the community, working to help inform and educate others about significant social justice needs and the systemic barriers that contribute to persistent inequality.
  1. Direct support – We will continue to work to improve the lives of marginalized and oppressed communities by providing both funding and volunteer time to organizations already working to break cycles of poverty, and to create opportunities for those in need. The work with our vetted non-profit partners – Boys and Girls Club, New Door Venture, Raphael House, SF Achievers – must continue and deepen.
  1. Building bridges with the oppressed – We will continue to develop relationships with those who are being discriminated against, building empathy, learning and providing encouragement. Our partnership with Grace Tabernacle should continue, and other connections with oppressed communities explored and strengthened.
  1. Educating and building awareness – We should continue to hold forums and seminars, invite speakers, and make resources available; we have a responsibility to educate ourselves, to provide opportunities for dialogue, and to host events that create understanding and shed light on important issues for our world today. Our work with the San Francisco Interfaith Council and other groups is also an important component in connecting our efforts outside the walls of Calvary.

The Session and pastoral staff acknowledge once again that actions and decisions regarding difficult and/or critical issues are best discussed and considered before public statements are made. We will seek to follow a more deliberate process in the future.

The Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church
October 21, 2016

A PDF of the statement is available for download.

If you’re interested in speaking with a pastor or lay leader, we welcome you to join the conversation: neighbors@calpres.org