Columbia Responds to Charlottesville and Racism
It started with a statement on racism from President Leanne Van Dyk:
“In the summer of 1964, three Freedom Riders were killed by the KKK in Mississippi. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney are martyrs for the cause of justice and equality. This was more than fifty years ago. Yesterday, in Charlottesville, Virginia, more martyrs for the cause of justice and equality were added to the grim list of casualties of racial hatred in this country. Some people, on social media and news outlets, expressed surprise at the blatant alt-right hatred on the streets of Charlottesville. But persons of color are not surprised; they are painfully aware of the persistence of racism in this country. Columbia Theological Seminary is absolutely clear that such callous hatred and prejudice runs deeply against the grain of the gospel. We are also clear that our call as Christians is to recognize the reality of entrenched racism, to repent of the sin of racism, and to commit ourselves to speak up, to act, to challenge, and to witness. Nothing less is possible for us as we follow where God calls.”
Over the weekend, Prof. William Yoo called for the community to gather at the Quad on Monday to:
- Pray for the grieving and hurting in Charlottesville,
- Stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are struggling for racial justice, and
- Denounce white supremacy.
Along the way faculty, staff, and students shared their own litanies, confessions, and prayers. An often recited text was from the Confession of Belhar, written in 1982 in South Africa under apartheid:
“We believe that any teaching which attempts to legitimate such forced separation by appeal to the gospel, and is not prepared to venture on the road of obedience and reconciliation, but rather, out of prejudice, fear, selfishness and unbelief, denies in advance the reconciling power of the gospel, must be considered ideology and false doctrine.
Therefore, we reject any doctrine which, in such a situation, sanctions in the name of the gospel or of the will of God the forced separation of people on the grounds of race and color and thereby in advance obstructs and weakens the ministry and experience of reconciliation in Christ.”
Feel free to share how your community or church congregation is responding.