We are alarmed at anti-Black, anti-Asian and anti-Indigenous violence in communities across Canada and the United States. Created in God’s image and actively loved by God, we must respect, welcome, include and love all people without partiality. Racism has no place in our community, and we renounce and turn from it as followers of Jesus and as people who are called to love our neighbours and care for the common good. We know we are not immune to racism.
Here is VST’s statement on discrimination:
Vancouver School of Theology is a community that operates on Christian values including caring and integrity in relationships. We endeavor at all times to provide a working and learning environment that is free from discrimination, supportive of spiritual and academic life, and that promotes the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of all members of the community. The basis of interaction at the School is one of mutual respect, cooperation and understanding, and we will not tolerate any behavior that is likely to undermine this.
As a denominational school of the Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches, we are in agreement with their common repudiation of racism and violence and so affirm our solidarity with these recent statements.
We must, we must, strengthen our commitment to working on the racism that we ourselves carry within us—for no one is exempt from racist beliefs, tendencies and actions. And we must, we must, wherever possible, stand up for and stand with our siblings in Christ who look different from us, who sound different from us, who practise different cultures from the cultures we grew up with and who suffer in ways that we must always be open, with humility, to learn more about. God will be our helper in this work. God will be our companion in this work (Anglican, Archbishop Melissa Skelton).
“God’s justice is seen when we deal fairly with each other and strive to change customs and practices that oppress and enslave others. Justice involves protecting the rights of others. It protests against everything that destroys human dignity.”
(Presbyterian, Living Faith)
Although we believe that God is found in our common diversity, the sin of racism is present in our society and in our church. The United Church is committed to becoming an anti-racist church through a continuous struggle against racism. “Change is possible. We believe in forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation and the potential to learn from stories and experiences.”
(United Church, That All May Be One, 2000)
See also this just released joint statement of the United, Lutheran and Anglican churches on concrete actions that can be taken to address anti-black racism.
As an affiliate college of the University of British Columbia, we also affirm our support of the recent statement against racism in all forms by the President of the University, Prof. Santa Ono.
“As a university, we need to make it crystal clear that racism and bias have no place in our community and that we have zero tolerance for it.
On behalf of the University, I condemn and denounce all incidents of anti-Black and anti-Asian racism and the continued racism and oppression that is directed at Indigenous communities. We must work together to dismantle the tools of oppression and white supremacy that remain prevalent and entrenched in our everyday systems. It is my hope that at least here at UBC, we can work to model a different kind of community – one where we embrace difference and work to build each other up while enacting values of dignity, mutual respect, and justice.”
We have expressed our hope for the climate of our larger culture by our solidary with business and community leaders who have taken a stand against racism in British Columbia by signing and circulating this statement.
“As business and community leaders, British Columbians, and human beings we cannot sit idly by. What we condone, we accept, and we cannot accept the growing racism and hate directed at people because of their ethnicity, culture, or faiths. Racism must be called out and it must stop now!
We are all deeply disturbed by the violent, overt and subtle displays of racism we are increasingly seeing and some that are being reported in the media. This is an affront to what it means to be a citizen in our province and country. As a place that welcomes the world, what we are witnessing is not who we are or aspire to be as Canadians. Admitting this growing problem will enable us to address it.”
We know we have not lived up to our best aspirations, that racism is present in our institution and our churches, and so we confess and repent of the sin of racism, seek deliverance and real and substantial change, and we hope for better future together in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I CONFESS by Howard Thurman
The concern which I lay bare before God today is:- My concern for the life of the world in these troubled times. I confess my own inner confusion as I look out upon the world. There is food for all – many are hungry. There are clothes enough for all – many are in rags. There is room enough for all – many are crowded. There are none who want war – preparations for conflict abound. I confess my own share in the ills of the times. I have shirked my own responsibilities as a citizen. I have not been wise in casting my ballot. I have left to others a real interest in making a public opinion worthy of democracy. I have been concerned about my own little job, my own little security, my own shelter, my own bread. I have not really cared about jobs for others, security for others, shelter for others, bread for others. I have not worked for peace; I want peace, but I have voted and worked for war. I have silenced my own voice that it may not be heard on the side of any cause, however right, if it meant running risks or damaging my own little reputation. Let Thy light burn in me that I may, from this moment on, take effective steps within my own powers, to live up to the light and courageously to pay for the kind of world I so deeply desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
– Richard Topping, Principal