The Session of Highland Presbyterian Church drafted this statement in response to the violence, bigotry and hate on display in Charlottesville and other parts of the country during the past weeks. The statement draws on the mission statement of Highland Presbyterian Church that guides the vision of our congregation. The Session unanimously approved the statement at a special called meeting on the morning of August 20, 2017.
We are a church committed to sharing hope. We affirm that God created us all as part of a good creation. Anchored in this belief, we fundamentally reject the purpose, ideologies, rhetoric, and actions of racism, white supremacy, neo-Naziism, and hate that seek to diminish or repress the rights and personhood of others. Violence and bigotry defy the teachings of Jesus and spurn our Creator’s design. We are called to work for justice and to affirm the dignity of all of God’s people. We are called to guide our children, support our neighbors, comfort the troubled, soothe the suffering, and bless the dying. We eagerly join hands with others to share in this good work and in the hope of God’s love for all of creation.
This year, we are taking one phrase from our mission statement each month as a kind of “theme” for emphasis and reflection. This month, as we begin the program year of education for children, youth and adults, it is appropriate that we reflect on how the Bible is our source of knowledge, inspiration and hope. When we use the word “inspired,” we mean it in two ways. First, our creeds and confessions say that the Bible is the “inspired” Word of God. This means that the Bible is both the product of human authors, editors, scribes and translators, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Presbyterian Christians argue that the authority of the Bible lies not in the words on the page but with the Holy Spirit who not only inspired the authors but inspires us as readers today.
“We are a community of faith inspired by biblical teachings.”
Second, not only is the text inspired, we are supposed to be inspired by reading and hearing the scriptures. The problem is that many people don’t experience the Bible as inspiring. Some have experienced the Bible as a weapon used against them: “behave this way, or else….” “Believe this, or else….” Obviously, the Bible contains principles, values, and rules for living. But when people use it primarily as a way to condemn others, the Bible itself is being abused, because its purpose is to bring life not death, hope not fear, joy not anxiety.