Letting others lead is difficult, especially when you are used to being in charge. In Rochester, we are in the midst of a societal reckoning, upending the norms to which we’ve grown accustomed. How do we discern what actions to take to dismantle structural racism when no clear direction is obvious?

We pray and we discern, with the wisdom of experts. Our Session members are looking to the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group for lived experience and wise council.

Third Presbyterian Church endorses the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group’s “Racism is a Public Health Crisis” Declaration and pledges to work in partnership with all sectors of the community to counter structural systemic racism.

We understand that, as a church with a mostly white congregation with all the privileges that entails, we have much learning and listening to do, in order to shape future actions. We make the following promises to ourselves and our community:

  1. to more aggressively confront racism, and
  2. to seek advice from those whose lived experiences are different from most of ours, and
  3. to take action to become effective allies in the fight against individual and systemic racism, and
  4. to work collectively to reimagine and rebuild our community.

Please join us in registering now for Rochester Action For a Better Community’s Virtual Conference Series, January 14, 21, and 28, entitled Attacking the Two Pandemics.

Social reckoning begins with individual reckoning. Some resources for your journey:

We are grateful to the 30 elders, deacons, and staff members who participated in Anti-Racism small group studies in November. If you would like to join us, 4:00-5:00pm on Mondays in January, please contact Beth Laidlaw.

However you participate in this individual reckoning and discernment, we offer this prayer:

God of Compassion and Justice,

Thank you for everything you have given us: our lives, our resources and our time, and this opportunity to work for your glory. Grant that we might gain understanding of what we need to do to build your kingdom here and now. Help us to question what ways our ancestors—without intent to do evil—have built our church and society on the land and labor of others.

Help us to question what ways our society—without intent to do evil—have built a system that deprives some of truly equal opportunity to share in the resources of this world. 

Help us to question what ways we may have, by simply going about our lives—without intent to do evil—continued to benefit from an unequal system and perpetuated injustice. Help us to question what we can do as individuals, as boards and committees, and as Third Church as a whole, to make amends, provide reparation and reconcile any harms of the past, so that we can help to build your kingdom here and now.

In Jesus’ name we pray,
Amen.