“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. ... God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” (verses from 1 John 4).
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. (Excerpt from The Confession of Belhar)
The events in Charlottesville deserve a clear response from the church.
Let there be no confusion. We, the leadership at First Presbyterian Church, denounce racism and any words, acts, or implications that are intended to raise one group of people over another and/or to cause harm to any person. We denounce hatred and any acts of violence.
We believe that God is love and that we are called to love one another. In the human family, no group of people has been created by God to be above another. We are all created in love and called to love one another as we love God.
God’s image is in all of God’s creatures equally and those who love God cannot elevate one group of people over and against another.
The hateful rhetoric and actions of white supremacist groups, neo-Nazis, and the KKK have no place in our nation or in our world. We have fought against such hateful, racist, exclusive rhetoric and actions in the past and we will continue to fight against them in the future. Our faith guides us in this, as does our nation’s history.
Jesus’ clear call to his disciples is that we love God and love one another. We cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we are unable to love our neighbors (no matter their race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or economic status), whom we have seen.
Friends, let us love one another, for love is from God.
The Session of First Presbyterian Church and its pastors,
Mindy Douglas, Pastor/Head of Staff
Marilyn Hedgpeth, Associate Pastor
Sam Miglarese, Associate Pastor
Cheryl Henry, Parish Associate
Susan Dunlap, Parish Associate