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A Pastoral Letter

August 22, 2017

To the Community of University Presbyterian Church,

As events that transpired in Charlottesville ten days ago now draw nearer to our doorstep, we offer you these words, born of faith and conviction.

In this broken and fearful world, we ground ourselves in the claims and call of the gospel:

  • We recognize the image of God imprinted upon every human being, endowing each one with dignity and belovedness.
  • We therefore denounce as antithetical to the gospel any ideology that would seek to elevate the dignity of any one person or group above another. In these particular days, we explicitly denounce white supremacy, racism, antisemitism, and hatred as powers that defy God’s righteousness and love.  We seek to repent of the ways we have been complicit with and captive to these powers; we turn toward the mercy of a God who is ever calling us back to righteousness and holiness.
  • We seek to heed the cry of the prophets, who called for justice for the poor and oppressed. We seek to follow Jesus, whose incarnation meant engagement with the powers of the world.  We lean into a rich tradition of Christian nonviolence that has long held up Love as the highest good and first objective.
  • We trust that God’s power is at work in this world for good, and we strive to make ourselves available to that power. We recognize that discipleship is costly, and we prayerfully commit ourselves to discerning how to be faithful to the call of Christ in the days ahead.

The Chapel Hill community is expecting some as-yet unidentified groups to gather at the statue of Silent Sam tonight at 7pm.  Wherever you are this evening, we invite you to join us in prayer: for the well-being of God’s people and for the furtherance of both justice and peace in our nation.

Many of you have inquired about what response the church can and should offer as events continue to unfold in our country and community.  We are eager to continue that conversation!  Please watch church publications for more information about opportunities to engage with Session and staff as together we seek to be both mindful of the urgency around us and thoughtful in our response.

This day and every day, it is a privilege to be the church along with you.

Grace and Peace,
Tom Brown, Minister of Music
Kate Fiedler, Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries
Kim McNeill, Staff Associate for Youth Ministries
Elizabeth Michael, Interim Associate Pastor
Nancy Myer, Staff Associate for Children’s Ministries
John Rogers, Associate Pastor for Campus Ministry
Beth Auman Visser, Director of Children’s and Youth Choirs