Princeton Theological Seminary President Craig Barnes has signed an open letter along with other seminary presidents from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. to show solidarity with more than 30 African American deans and seminary presidents who have called for action on racial justice issues.
On Jan. 15, the African American Presidents and Deans in Theological Education issued a call through an open letter to leaders, citizens, and people who serve theological and divinity schools.
“Discrimination thrives, with no intent or program for relief. As was true in the 1960s, it is time for citizens of good conscience to once again rise up and rally to the cry for freedom and justice for all. The racial climate in the United States, and the respect for our common humanity everywhere, is clearly in decline,” reads the letter. “How can Americans acquiesce, remain silent, passive and neutral as African-American men and women are slain in the streets of Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland and beyond?”
The letter calls on Americans to reaffirm a commitment to “the beloved community,” where the freedom and rights of all are respected and protected.
“We believe that citizens of good conscience must arise and call our nation to assess and address the rising tide of injustice throughout our legal and criminal justice systems.There must be restraint to those who shoot, kill, and maim innocent young men and women in the streets of our nation,” reads the letter. “We call on all Americans of good conscience who gather across the country to speak out for liberty and justice for all. As our modern-day prophet, Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, `Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.”
At the annual meeting of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Presidents and Board Chairs, Brian Blount, president of Union Presbyterian Seminary and one of the signers of the open letter, read the letter as part of the group’s opening prayer.
The presidents said they were deeply moved by the letter and affirmed their solidarity with an open letter of their own.
“We commit to creating and sustaining conversations, programs, and actions, that are consistent with the missions of our schools that respond to our country’s current situation so that we might embrace anew a vision of the beloved community,” reads the response letter. “Your prophetic witness inspires us. Our own various complicities within oppressive structures humble us. May the Spirit of God, which dwells in each of us, transform our world so that we might more fully embrace a Christian witness that seeks to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.”
Article by Krystal Knapp, the publisher and founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached at Krystal@planetprinceton.com.