You can view recordings from the workshops by clicking on the links below as well as download the BROCHURE for more information.
This resource list of non-fiction books, fiction books, biographies/autobiographies, movies, websites, podcasts, and children’s books highlights themes of Black History Month. It was compiled by the members of the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery Racial Reconciliation Subcommittee.
After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging (Theological Education between the Times) by Willie James Jennings (2020)- Theological education has always been about formation: first of people, then of communities, then of the world. If theological education aims to form people who can gather others together through border-crossing pluralism and God-drenched communion, we can begin to cultivate the radical belonging that is at the heart of God’s transformative work. This book is for anyone who has ever questioned why theological education still matters. It is a call for Christian intellectuals to exchange isolation for intimacy and embrace their place in the crowd—just like the crowd that followed Jesus and experienced his miracles. It is part memoir, part decolonial analysis, and part poetry—a multimodal discourse that deliberately transgresses boundaries, as Jennings hopes theological education will do, too.
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles (2021)- This book traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives. It is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction – and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.
Anti-Racism 4 Reals: Real Talk with Real Strategies in Real Time for Real Change by Shelia Beckford and E. Michelle Ledder (2021)- Not all activities with the name “anti-racism” are actually anti-racist. In this book, anti-racism trainers Beckford and Ledder contend much of the current education leaves out action steps for dislodging racism in real time, and even worse, perpetuates racism, causing further harm to Black, Indigenous, Pacific-Islander, Asian, Latinx (BIPAL) people. Using the concept of “racial positionality” as the entry point for engaging anti-racist work, this groundbreaking book offers concrete tools to confront racism and bring about REAL change in REAL time. Written by two ordained women—one Black Latina, one white—this straight-talk, practical workbook provides 137 ways to be truly anti-racist, including scripts and other practices for interrupting and dismantling racism. A forthcoming video discussion guide and Leaders Workbook will help facilitate small group discussion and ACTION-NOW Learning Engagements.
Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White People Talk Faithfully about Racism by Carolyn Helsel (2021)- The author helps whites better understand and embrace their feelings of anxiety, shame, and guilt, and work through them so that they can join conversations with more courage and confidence. Reflection questions close each chapter.
Becoming a Just Church: Cultivating Communities of God’s Shalom by Adam Gustine (2019)- The author calls the local church to be just and do justice. He provides a theological vision for our identity as a just people, where God’s character and the pursuit of shalom infuses every aspect of our congregational DNA. As we grow in becoming just, the church becomes a prophetic alternative to the broken systems of the world and a parable of God’s intentions for human flourishing and societal transformation. This renewed vision for the church leads us into cultivating a just life together―in community, discipleship, worship, and more―extending justice out into the world in concrete ways.
Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice by Yusef Salaam (2021)- The author was only 15 years old when he and four other children were falsely accused of the brutal rape of a Central Park jogger. Despite this horrific miscarriage of justice, Salaam’s memoir, is one of astounding warmth. His incarceration doesn’t keep Salaam from experiencing encouragement and gratitude, but he doesn’t shy away from the pain he endured either.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)- This book is the author’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Beyond the Burning Bus: The Civil Rights Revolution in a Southern Town by J. Philips Noble- (2013)- This is apersonal story by a Presbyterian minister to bring racial healing after the burning of a freedom riders bus in Anniston Alabama in the 1960s.
Anniston, Alabama, is a small industrial city between Birmingham and Atlanta. In 1961, the city’s potential for race-related violence was graphically revealed when the Ku Klux Klan firebombed a Freedom Riders bus. In response to that incident, a few black and white leaders in Anniston took a progressive view that desegregation was inevitable and that it was better to unite the community than to divide it. To that end, the city created a biracial Human Relations Council which set about to quietly dismantle Jim Crow segregation laws and customs. This was such a novel notion in George Wallace’s Alabama that President Kennedy phoned with congratulations. The Council did not prevent all disorder in Anniston―there was one death and the usual threats, cross burnings, and a widely publicized beating of two black ministers―yet Anniston was spared much of the civil rights bitterness that raged in other places in the turbulent mid-sixties. Author Phil Noble’s account is carefully researched but told from a personal viewpoint. It shows once again that the civil rights movement was not monolithic either for those who were in it or those who were opposed to it.
Beyond Color Blind by Sarah Shin (2017)- Ethnicity racial identity are often points of pain and injustice. Shin reveals how our brokenness around ethnicity can be restored and redeemed, for our own wholeness and also for the good of others. (14.05)
Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora by Bryant Terry (2021)- This book is part cookbook, essay collection, photo collage, history textbook and playlist. It comes together like a 300-page zine drawing on chefs and thinkers from Barbados to Somalia to Haiti to the Carolinas.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (2020)- This book is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. The author points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South by Winfred Rembert and Erin Kelly (2021)- This book is visually stunning, full of images of the late Winfred Rembert’s art, which he carved and painted in leather. There are scenes of his life growing up in rural Georgia – a jarring juxtaposition of nostalgic moments like fishing or dancing in the juke joint, and dark memories of picking cotton, escaping a lynching, and working on the chain gang. Rembert’s brutally honest storytelling helps us see the sacrifice and grit it took for Black Americans to survive in the Jim Crow South, something he said should make families proud and want to talk about their history.
The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Willie James Jennings (2011)- This book delves deep into the late medieval soil in which the modern Christian imagination grew, to reveal how Christianity’s highly refined process of socialization has inadvertently created and maintained segregated societies. Weaving together the stories of Zurara, the royal chronicler of Prince Henry, the Jesuit theologian Jose de Acosta, the famed Anglican Bishop John William Colenso, and the former slave writer Olaudah Equiano, Jennings narrates a tale of loss, forgetfulness, and missed opportunities for the transformation of Christian communities. Touching on issues of slavery, geography, Native American history, Jewish-Christian relations, literacy, and translation, he brilliantly exposes how the loss of land and the supersessionist ideas behind the Christian missionary movement are both deeply implicated in the invention of race. The author charts, with great vision, new ways of imagining ourselves, our communities, and the landscapes we inhabit.
The Color of Compromise: The Truth About American Church’s Complexity in Racism by Jemar Tisby and Lecrae Moore (2020)- This book is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don’t know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church. It is not a call to shame or a platform to blame white evangelical Christians. It is a call from a place of love and desire to fight for a more racially unified church that no longer compromises what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality. A call that challenges black and white Christians alike to standup now and begin implementing the concrete ways Tisby outlines, all for a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people. Starting today.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (2018)- Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. This is a powerful study of how federal and local laws have promoted or allowed racial segregation even now.
The Color of Compassion: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisbey (2020)- Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church. It is not a call to shame or a platform to blame white evangelical Christians. It is a call from a place of love and desire to fight for a more racially unified church that no longer compromises what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality. A call that challenges black and white Christians alike to standup now and begin implementing the concrete ways the author outlines, all for a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people.
Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World by Wil Haygood (2021)- This fascinating, exhaustively researched and gorgeously written tome delves deep into the background of everything from D.W. Griffith’s monstrous silent Birth of a Nation, to teenager Darnella Frazier’s video of the murder of George Floyd. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t see the Sidney Poitier/Dorothy Dandridge Porgy and Bess, or why Spike Lee had to borrow money to fly to Cannes to win Best Young Director for She’s Gotta Have It– read this book. There are so many treasures to unearth.
Faith After Ferguson: Resilient Leadership in Pursuit of Racial Justice by Leah Gunning Francis (2021)- The author reconnects with the faith leaders who took to the streets to protest the police shooting of an unarmed 17- year-old black man and the racially tinged events in
St. Louis and across the United States. She weaves these first-person accounts with her own journey of activism in hopes of encouraging the reader to consider racial justice not just as an intellectual exercise, but to be awakened to the multiplicity of ways that racism shows up in the world and be inspired to act. Francis also reflects on the traumatic impact of the four years under the Trump administration, and the more recent events of racism and white supremacy in the killing of George Floyd, the presidential election, and the Capitol riots in early January 2021.
Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community by Leah Gunning Francis (2021)- The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis-area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today’s Civil Rights Movement. Seminary professor Leah Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests. This book demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them.
Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore (2021)- When Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing an “illegal knife” in April 2015, he was, by eyewitness accounts that video evidence later confirmed, treated “roughly” as police loaded him into a vehicle. By the end of his trip in the police van, Gray was in a coma from which he would never recover. In the wake of a long history of police abuse in Baltimore, this killing felt like the final straw—it led to a week of protests, then five days described alternately as a riot or an uprising that set the entire city on edge and caught the nation’s attention.
Getting to the Promised Land: Black American and the Unfinished Work of the Civil Rights Movement by Kevin W. Cosby (2021)- Too often, all oppressed people in America are lumped together under the moniker “people of color,” as if each group’s experience under the yoke of systemic racism has the same economic and social repercussions. But the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) hold a unique claim to economic and reparative justice: for ADOS, after all, is the only group whose ancestors were forcibly brought to America, enslaved, built much of the wealth of the country, yet continue to be specifically excluded from the same social, political, and economic rights of other Americans. To that end, Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby lays out the first theology of the ADOS movement, turning the traditional lens of Black liberation theology from Moses leading escaped Hebrew slaves in Exodus to other biblical leaders like Solomon, Daniel, and Nehemiah. In the stories these biblical leaders, Cosby finds inspiration on how to rebuild Black America including the necessity of government reparations for ADOS. Cosby calls all Americans to move from a place of relative nonengagement and detachment to a place of active support of ADOS’s efforts for justice and healing.
Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller (2021)- The author takes on an often-ignored aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system: the fact that even those who leave incarceration are, in many ways, never truly free. Labyrinthine rules and regulations govern the lives of the released and can mean ineligibility for student loans and public housing or the inability to live in a home that has a foster child. Miller combines data with the lived experiences of the people behind the numbers to create a compelling critique of a deeply problematic system.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (2019)- Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. The author weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.
How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice by Jemar Tisby (2021)- In this follow-up to the New York Times Bestseller The Color of Compromise, the author offers an array of actionable items to confront racism.This book introduces a simple framework that teaches readers to consistently interrogate their own actions and maintain a consistent posture of anti-racist behavior. The A.R.C. Of Racial Justice is a clear model (awareness, relationships, and commitment) for how to think about race in productive and practical ways.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (2018)- Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. This book is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God’s ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness—if we let it—can save us all.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2015)- Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court by Orville Burton and Armand Derfner (2021)- This is the first book that comprehensively charts the Supreme Court’s race jurisprudence. Addressing nearly two hundred cases involving America’s racial minorities, the authors probe the parties involved, the justices’ reasoning, and the impact of individual rulings. We learn of heroes such as Thurgood Marshall; villains, including Roger Taney; and enigmas like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Hugo Black. Much of the fragility of civil rights in America is due to the Supreme Court, but as this sweeping history also reminds us, the justices still have the power to make good on the country’s promise of equal rights for all.
killing rage: Ending Racism by Bell Hooks (1996)- The author has always maintained that eradicating racism and eradicating sexism must go hand in hand. But whereas many women have been recognized for their writing on gender politics, the female voice has been all but locked out of the public discourse on race. These twenty-three essays are written from a black and feminist perspective, and they tackle the bitter difficulties of racism by envisioning a world without it. They address a spectrum of topics having to do with race and racism in the United States: psychological trauma among African Americans; friendship between black women and white women; anti-Semitism and racism; and internalized racism in movies and the media.
Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry (2020)- As the descendant of slaves and the son of a civil rights activist, Bishop Michael Curry’s life illustrates massive changes in our times. Much of the world met Bishop Curry when he delivered his sermon on the redemptive power of love at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle. Here, he expands on his message of hope in an inspirational road map for living the way of love, illuminated with moving lessons from his own life. Through the prism of his faith, ancestry, and personal journey, the author shows us how America came this far and, more important, how to go a whole lot further. The way of love is essential for addressing the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the world today: poverty, racism, selfishness, deep ideological divisions, competing claims to speak for God.
Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah (2010)- The United States is currently undergoing the most rapid demographic shift in its history. Past shifts in America’s demographics always reshaped the county’s religious landscape. This shift will be no different. This book is intended to equip evangelicals for ministry and outreach in our changing nation. Borrowing from the business concept of “cultural intelligence,” the author explores how God’s people can become more multiculturally adept. From discussions about cultural and racial histories, to reviews of case-study churches and Christian groups that are succeeding in bridging ethnic divides, Rah provides a practical and hopeful guidebook for Christians wanting to minister more effectively in diverse settings.
A More Perfect Union: A New Vision for Building the Beloved Community by Adam Russell Taylor (2022)- The author reimagines a contemporary version of the Beloved Community (the moral vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) that will inspire and unite Americans across generations, geographic and class divides, racial and gender differences, faith traditions, and ideological leanings. In the Beloved Community, neither privilege nor punishment is tied to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or economic status, and everyone is able to realize their full potential and thrive. Building the Beloved Community requires living out a series of commitments, such as true equality, radical welcome, transformational interdependence, E Pluribus Unum (“”out of many, one””), environmental stewardship, nonviolence, and economic equity. By building the Beloved Community we unify the country around a shared moral vision that transcends ideology and partisanship, tapping into our most sacred civic and religious values, enabling our nation to live up to its best ideals and realize a more perfect union.
Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope by Jasmine L. Holmes (2020)- The author shares a series of powerful letters to her young son. These are about her journey as an African American Christian and what she wants her son to know as he grows and approaches the world as a black man. Holmes deals head-on with issues ranging from discipleship and marriage to biblical justice. She invites us to read over her shoulder as she reminds Wynn that his identity is firmly planted in the person and work of Jesus Christ, even when the topic is one as emotionally charged as race in America.
My Grandmother’s Hand: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem (2017)- In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology. The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn’t just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans—our police. This book is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (2010, 2020)- Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; and much more. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
No Innocent Bystanders: Becoming an Ally in the Struggle for Justice by Shannon Craigo-Snell and Cristopher Doucot (2017)- This book is a start-up guide for spiritual or religious people who are interested in working for social justice but don’t know how or where to begin, drawing on the lessons of history, the framework of Christian ideas, and the insights of contemporary activists. It offers practical guidance on how to meaningfully and mindfully advocate alongside all who struggle for a more just society.
Not So Black and White: An Invitation to Honest Conversations About Race and Faith by Reggie Dabbs and John Driver (2021)- White privilege. Black Lives Matter. George Floyd. When it comes to racism in America, many of us feel confused, overwhelmed, angry–and eager to know how to engage in meaningful conversations and actions surrounding such a difficult topic. The authors team up to offer a hope-filled, convicting, inspiring look at how to be anti-racist in America today. This resource for pastors, teachers, and community leaders equips us to engage together in the intentional work of dismantling racism, just as the gospel calls us to do.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed (2021)- The author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian mingles her groundbreaking personal story – she was the first Black student to desegregate schools in her hometown of Conroe, Texas – with a less white-centered version of the state’s history to create a new narrative. Shifting away from myths aimed at comforting white people, she reveals a truth that includes everyone, especially those freed by the official emancipation of enslaved people in the state on June 19, 1865.
Pre- Post- Racial America: Spiritual Stories from the Front Lines by Sandhya Rani Jha (2021)- Those people. Theirissues. The day’s news and the ways we treat each other, overtly or subliminally, prove we are not yet living in post-racial America. It’s hard to talk about race in America without everyone very quickly becoming defensive and shutting down. What makes talking race even harder is that so few of us actually know each other in the fullness of our stories. A recent Reuters poll found 40% of white people have no friends of other races, and 25% of people of color only have friends of the same race. The author addresses the hot topic in a way that is grounded in real people’s stories and that offers solid biblical grounding for thinking about race relations in America, reminding us that God calls us to build Beloved Community. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter provide starting points for reading groups
Prophesy Deliverance! by Cornel West (2002)- The author provides readers with a new understanding of the African American experience based largely on his own political and cultural perspectives borne out of his own life’s experiences. He challenges African Americans to consider the incorporation of Marxism into their theological perspectives, thereby adopting the mindset that it is class more so than race that renders one powerless in America. (14.05)
Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretations as an Exercise in Hope by Esau McCaulley (2020)- Growing up in the American South, Esau McCaulley knew firsthand the ongoing struggle between despair and hope that marks the lives of some in the African American context. A key element in the fight for hope, he discovered, has long been the practice of Bible reading and interpretation that comes out of traditional Black churches. This ecclesial tradition is often disregarded or viewed with suspicion by much of the wider church and academy, but it has something vital to say. The advocates for a model of interpretation that involves an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, in which the particular questions coming out of Black communities are given pride of place and the Bible is given space to respond by affirming, challenging, and, at times, reshaping Black concerns. McCaulley demonstrates this model with studies on how Scripture speaks to topics often overlooked by white interpreters, such as ethnicity, political protest, policing, and slavery.
Race and Reconciliation Workbook: Confession of 1967 and Belhar by Clifton Kirkpatrick (2015)- This study focuses on two confessions of faith from the twentieth century. Using the Confession of 1967 and the Confession of Belhar, in our Book of Confessions, we say what we believe; and by God’s grace, we try to live it. (04.02)
Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue (2016)- If you believe that talking about race is impolite, or that “colorblindness” is the preferred approach, you must read this book. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence debunks the most pervasive myths using evidence, easy-to-understand examples, and practical tools. Covered in this book are: characteristics of typical, unproductive conversations on race; tacit and explicit social rules related to talking about racial issues; race-specific difficulties and misconceptions regarding race talk; and concrete advice for educators and parents on approaching race in a new way.
Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity by David Swanson (2020)- In this simple but powerful book, the author contends that discipleship, not diversity, lies at the heart of our white churches’ racial brokenness. Before white churches can pursue diversity, Swanson argues, we must first take steps to address the faulty discipleship that has led to our segregation in the first place. Drawing on the work of philosopher James K. A. Smith and others, Swanson proposes that we rethink our churches’ habits, or liturgies, and imagine together holistic, communal discipleship practices that can reform us as members of Christ’s diverse body.
Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair by Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson (2021)- This book makes a compelling historical and theological case for the church’s obligation to provide reparations for the oppression of African Americans. The authors articulate the church’s responsibility for its promotion and preservation of white supremacy throughout history, investigate the Bible’s call to repair our racial brokenness, and offer a vision for the work of reparation at the local level. They lead readers toward a moral imagination that views reparations as a long-overdue and necessary step in our collective journey toward healing and wholeness.
Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores by Dominique DuBois Gillard (2018)- The author explores the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining Christianity’s role in its evolution and expansion. He then shows how Christians can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions. The church has the power to help transform our criminal justice system. Discover how you can participate in the restorative justice needed to bring authentic rehabilitation, lasting transformation, and healthy reintegration to this broken system.
Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule (2022)- The author’s book provides an important and engaging history lesson. He cuts down myths about the Confederacy and about Robert E. Lee, and makes it clear to anyone who doubts that their cause was deeply racist and wrong. The fact that this book is written by a Southerner, an Army veteran and a onetime Lee acolyte – a story Seidule weaves through the book, too – makes it all the more powerful.
Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution by John Archibald (2020)- Pulitzer Prize-winning Alabama columnist John Archibald reckons with his late father’s silence during the civil rights movement in Birmingham, an epicenter for the struggle. His dad was a Methodist minister and Archibald looks through his father’s old sermons and compares them to events of the day with rich historical detail. The exercise has the author turning inward to examine his own choices. Reading this book may encourage readers to think about their own family’s legacy.
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones (2021)- This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction – and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation but continues to shape contemporary American life.
Something in the Water by Michael W. Waters (2021)- From poems and prayers to sermons and eulogies, from rally cries to commentaries, this book illuminates not just our present struggles, but also the hope and belief in a better day to come. Ultimately, the author challenges us to consider our role, collectively and individually, in the troubled waters of racism, and what we are willing to do to create something better.
Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege by Dominique DuBois Gillard (2021)- The author asks us to grapple with privilege, indifference, and systemic sin in new ways by using biblical examples to reveal the complex nature of privilege and Christians’ responsibility in stewarding it well. By embodying Scripture’s subversive call to leverage–and at times forsake–privilege, readers will learn to love their neighbors sacrificially, enact systemic change, and grow more Christlike as citizens of God’s kingdom.
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (2021)- McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm—the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. In unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: the benefits we gain when people come together across race to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own. This book is not only a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here but also a heartfelt message, delivered with startling empathy, from a black woman to a multiracial America. It leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than a zero-sum game.
The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation by Miles McPherson (2020)-. Some are oblivious to the impact racism has, while others pretend it doesn’t exist. Even the church has been affected by racial division. Christians, who are called to love and honor their neighbors, have fallen into culture’s trap by siding with one group against another: us vs. them. Cops vs. protestors. Blacks vs. whites. Racists vs. the “woke.” The lure of choosing one option over another threatens God’s plan for unity among His people. Instead of going along with the culture, the author directs us to choose the Third Option: honoring the priceless value of God’s image in every person we meet. He exposes common misconceptions that keep people from engaging with those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and identifies the privileges and pitfalls that we all face.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery (2016)- As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.
Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race by Benjamin Watson (2016)- In this challenging look at race, bias, and justice, Benjamin Watson, a tight end for the Baltimore Ravens and a social media commentator, speaks from his deepest heart to articulate what many of us think and feel. Part memoir and part social commentary, this book offers an honest look at both sides of the race debate–and appeals to the power and possibility of faith as a step toward healing. (14.05)
Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Soong-Chan Rah and Mark Charles (2019)- In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, the authors reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.” In the 15th century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization. Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. The writers aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going. As other nations have instituted truth and reconciliation commissions, so do the authors call our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.
Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, From the Revolution to Reconstruction by Kate Masur (2021)- From the nation’s founding, the American creed included the idea that “all men are created equal.” The author shows how from the Revolution to the Civil War, there was an eight-decade fight for equality – an effort to make those words more than notional. Free Blacks were subjected to kidnapping and imprisonment. The petition movement available to all would be challenged by states with laws superseding individual freedom in the absence of federal law. This is the story of the drive for racial equality in civil and political rights and the effort to nationalize that fight for the full rights of citizenship
Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martinez (2021)- Rebecca Hall doesn’t just want to tell the parts of the story that are riveting- desperate women attacking slavers in the streets or chiseling through chains in the holds of the death ships. These stories are in the book, but they are only half of the author’s saga. The other half is her own struggle against the conspiracy of silence that has shut these women out of history. Martinez’s terrific depictions of Hall’s research process are as gripping as those of the revolts themselves.
Waking Up White: And Find Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving (2014)- For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn’t understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one “aha!” moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In her book the author tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us. A separate study guide written by Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston is also available. (14.05)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson- (2011)- From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. This book is a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” of African-American within our own land. With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling, and Robert Foster. The author brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young (2002)- Perhaps the hardest thing to remember in the throes of a crisis is that every bad break can also be a blessing. Indeed, there are always unexpected benefits in misfortune-a refreshed or redirected sense of purpose about our life’s work after the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, a new appetite for living after a serious illness-provided we meet our crises with a shift in outlook. Born of the author’s own terrible trauma, What Doesn’t Kill You presents hard-won advice and practical exercises to help readers effectively navigate the terrain of this difficult process. Rich with stories of people who have come through tragedy to find new or different meaning in their lives-from the author’s account of her daughter’s near-fatal car accident to the experiences of survivors of the September 11 attacks-What Doesn’t Kill You offers a path to healing and internal transformation. Powerful and inspirational, it will help readers not only survive adversity but also harvest new strength from it that will be a lasting source of freedom from anger and despair. It is a reader’s best weapon against the worst of times.
White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to be White by Daniel Hill (2017)- In this compelling and timely book, the author shows you the seven stages to expect on your own path to cultural awakening. It’s crucial to understand both personal and social realities in the areas of race, culture, and identity. This book will give you a new perspective on being white and also empower you to be an agent of reconciliation in our increasingly diverse and divided world.
White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea by Tyler Stovall (2021)- The focus of this timely history is the relationship between the concepts of freedom and race in the modern world. The author defines white freedom – which, he demonstrates, has been the foundation of liberty beloved especially by European and North American nations – as “the belief (and practice) that freedom is central to white racial identity, and that only white people can or should be free.” His argument is convincing, and the way he makes it is fascinating, with chapters covering a wide range of topics, from the golden age of piracy to the modern-era limitations on children’s freedom.
White Lies: Nine Ways to Expose and Resist the Racial Systems that Divide Us by Daniel Hill (2020)- In this practical and illuminating guide drawn from more than twenty years of cross-cultural work and learning from some of the greatest leaders of color, pastor and racial justice advocate Daniel Hill provides nine practices rooted in Scripture that will position you to be an active supporter of inclusion, equality, and racial justice. He includes stories, studies, and examples from his own journey, As we follow Jesus–the one who is supreme over all things–into overturning false power systems, we will become better advocates of the liberating and unconditional love that God extends to us all.
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise (2011)- The inspiration for the acclaimed documentary film, this deeply personal polemic reveals how racial privilege shapes the daily lives of white Americans in every realm: employment, education, housing, criminal justice, and elsewhere. Using stories from his own life, Tim Wise examines what it really means to be white in a nation created to benefit people who are “white like him.” This inherent racism is not only real, but disproportionately burdens people of color and makes progressive social change less likely to occur. Explaining in clear and convincing language why it is in everyone’s best interest to fight racial inequality, Wise offers ways in which white people can challenge these unjust privileges, resist white supremacy and racism, and ultimately help to ensure the country’s personal and collective well-being.
White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege by Amy Julia Becker (2018)- Gently addressing the challenging topics of privilege and race, power and inequality, White Picket Fences is a memoir of Amy Julia Becker’s growing awareness of the unequal benefits (and secret harm) she received by virtue of her white skin, Protestant heritage, education and able body. The author guides readers through her growing realization of how inequality has negatively impacted herself and others. Through reflections on parenting, family, and faith, Becker traces her process to discover how she can participate in actions and conversations of truth and love in order to bring wholeness and healing.
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. Jones (2021)- As the nation grapples with demographic changes and the legacy of racism in America, Christianity’s role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians—from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast—have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story. This book draws on lessons gleaned from case studies of communities beginning to face these challenges. Jones argues that contemporary white Christians must confront these unsettling truths because this is the only way to salvage the integrity of their faith and their own identities.
The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans- And How We Can Fix it by Dorothy Brown (2021)- A tax law professor at Emory University, the author started her research in the field because she thought it would be race-neutral. But years of studying the history of the U.S. tax code and comparing the tax records of wealthy public figures with those of poorer people, she was left with one inescapable conclusion. The tax code, she argues, has been designed to advantage those who are already privileged and to disadvantage those who are not. It is a surprisingly easy read.
Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States by Maya Schenwar , Alana Yu-lan Price, Alicia Garza, and Joe Macaré, editors (2021)- What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young Black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays explores police violence against Black, brown, indigenous, and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. The book explores alternatives for keeping communities safe.
Black and White: The Way I See It by Richard Williams (2017)- This is the story of Richard Williams, the father who raised and trained two of the greatest women in sports, Venus and Serena. He achieved greatness in spite of hardship and disadvantages to become a successful businessman, family man and tennis coach
Just as I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson (2021)- In a memoir published just days before her death, Cicely Tyson reflected on her 96 years on Earth, including over six massively influential decades in the entertainment industry. The book goes beyond the surface of chronicling a legendary performer’s career. Instead it’s an eye-opening look at life as a Black actress in Hollywood, proving that little has changed.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (2020)- This is an emotionally raw, masterful account of Stephanie’s years spent in service to upper middle class America as a “nameless ghost” who quietly shared in her clients’ triumphs, tragedies, and deepest secrets. Driven to carve out a better life for her family, she cleaned by day and took online classes by night, writing relentlessly as she worked toward earning a college degree. She wrote of the true stories that weren’t being told: of living on food stamps and WIC coupons, of government programs that barely provided housing, of aloof government employees who shamed her for receiving what little assistance she did. Above all else, she wrote about pursuing the myth of the American Dream from the poverty line, all the while slashing through deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs (2021)- The reader will discover that though their paths were very different, all three women were instrumental in shaping their sons’ lives. Louise Little was an activist, Berdis Baldwin encouraged her son’s creativity, and Alberta King gave young Martin lessons in faith and social justice. All three mothers ended up outliving their sons.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman– Beginning during the racial turmoil of 1960s Louisiana, 110-year-old ex-slave Jane Pittman grants an interview to a persistent journalist and relates the remarkable story of her life. Orphaned early, she toils on a plantation until a chance meeting with a white Union soldier named Brown changes her outlook. Jane’s emancipation marks only the beginning of an arduous and heartbreaking odyssey, framed by the horrors of slavery and the justice of the civil rights movement.
Glory is about the first black regiment to fight for the North in the Civil War. The film depicts the soldiers of the 54th regiment from its formation to their heroic actions at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.
Green Book is set in 1962 and is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley and Italian American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard. The film is named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travelers written by Victor Hugo Green.
The Help tells the story of an aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She decides to write a book detailing the African American maids’ point of view.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Mississippi Burning is about the FBI investigating the 1964 disappearance of three civil rights activists in Mississippi. The two FBI agents investigating the disappearance are met with hostility by the town’s residents, local police, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Sons and Daughters of Thunder: The Beginning of the End of Slavery in America is based on the play by Earlene Hawley and Curtis Heater and tells the unforgettable true story of the beginning of the end of slavery in America. Discussing the abolition of slavery in 1834 was considered radical, even in the North. Organized by firebrand abolitionist Theodore Weld, the nation’s first public debates at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio led to near riot conditions in the city. The shocking oratory sparked intense controversy and awakened a young Harriet Beecher (Stowe) to the horrors of slavery. Harriet was captivated by Weld’s charismatic leadership at a time when Calvin Stowe was trying to win her heart. Inspired by Weld and the debates, Harriet later distilled her Cincinnati experiences into the world-wide best-selling novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. This forgotten true story from award-winning filmmakers Kelly Rundle and Tammy Rundle was a prelude to America’s Civil War.
12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. Northrup was a New York State-born free African American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery.
The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till is a documentary that takes place in Mississippi during the ’50s. A black teenager named Emmett Louis Till, who is from Chicago and visiting his great-uncle, whistles at a white woman in public. Not too long afterward, he is kidnapped and murdered. The filmmakers revisit the public outrage that follows, revealing Till’s family as being particularly brave for standing up to white racism when it was clearly unsafe to do so.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead- This book is about a heist in Harlem and the ramifications of the crime for those who did the deed. The novel kicks off in 1959 and storms into the 1960s with Ray Carney, furniture store owner, at the helm. This book brings the Black community of the 1960s to life with insight, grace, research, an outstanding cast of characters, and humor that is by turns gritty, culturally observant and wickedly funny.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBose: A Novel by Honoree Fammon Jeffers- The author’s debut novel is intimidating. For one thing, it’s almost 800 pages long. For another, it is stupendously good. Rooted in the South, this is a very American tale: Jeffers’ heroine, Ailey Pearl Garfield, is a blend of her family’s ethnicities (African, Native, white) and circumstances (enslaved, free, indentured). Readers follow Ailey’s life as she comes of age, becomes a historian and begins to research her family’s accomplishments and traumas over generations. Jeffers’ renditions of Black family traditions and the burden of respectability politics are spot-on.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (2018)- With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers.
The Sweetness of Water: A Novel by Nathan Harris- This book is an American saga about a small Georgia community trying to find its footing after emancipation and the trauma of the Civil War. Two young freedmen, brothers from a local plantation, are hiding out in the woods, trying to avoid their obstinate former master until they can make their way north. They find unlikely but steadfast allies in the eccentric white family who own the land.
Black Church Studies at Candler School of Theology (Emory University)- https://candler.emory.edu/programs-resources/special-interest-area-programs/black-church-studies/index.html
Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation at Union Presbyterian Seminary, Charlotte Campus https://www.upsem.edu/csjr/
Black Life in America: 1976 to Today (website: www.library.upsem.edu), Richmond
Children and Anti-Racism Toolkit from the PCUSA Office of Christian Formation- This toolkit provides resources for children and the adults who love them to deepen their understanding of historic and ongoing systems of oppression and ideas to assist them in the work of becoming anti-racist. This resource will help you in your efforts to raise children who will join in the struggle for justice and equity for all God’s people. https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/children-and-anti-racism-toolkit/
Equal Justice Initiative Daily Calendar: A History of Racial Injustice– On this day… https://calendar.eji.org/racial-injustice/nov/18
Racial Equity Institute– We are an alliance of trainers, organizers, and institutional leaders who have devoted ourselves to the work of creating racially equitable organizations and systems. we help individuals and organizations develop tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity. https://www.racialequityinstitute.com/
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho https://uncomfortableconvos.com/
Emmanuel Acho: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Listen here
She Speaks Too with Patricia Bligen Jones- a podcast that shares the stories of African Americans who have made an impact in their communities: historically, economically and educationally from the South Carolina Low Country and around the world! Listen here
CHILDREN’S BOOKS (Children’s books make great adult reads too. Most of these are available for you to borrow from the presbytery resource center.)
Because Brian Hugged His Mother by David L. Rice- A simple act of kindness may go further than you think. Brian hugged his mom one morning, and his hug set in motion a series of unselfish acts that reached more people than he could ever know.
Brian the Brave by Paul Stewart- This book teaches diversity and how one sheep brings together sheep of all different kinds as they face danger.
Colors Come from God…Just Like Me! By Carolyn A. Forche (1995)- A young girl talks about the many things God created–and their colors. Each section ends with the affirmation “And God made me a beautiful brown!” This book is designed to help African American children develop a healthy racial self-esteem as they face situations where people reject them because of their skin color.
Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox- This modern fable tells the story of some peacocks and swans who allow the fear of their differences to become so great that they end up destroying each other.
For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters- The shootings keep coming, and so do Jeremiah’s questions. Dad doesn’t have easy answers, but that doesn’t mean he won’t talk about it- or that he won’t act. But what if Jeremiah doesn’t want to talk anymore? None of it makes sense, and he’s just a kid. Even if he wants to believe in a better world, is there anything he can do about it? Inspired by real-life events, this honest, intimate look at one family’s response to racism and gun violence includes a discussion guide created by the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, a multicultural center and museum committed to promoting respect, hope, and understanding.
For Every Child from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child- In November 1989 the United Nations formally adopted fifty-four principles that make up the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This extraordinary book takes fourteen of the most pertinent rights and retells them in simple text. Each right has been interpreted in a double page spread by some of the world’s best artists.
God’s Big Plan by Elizabeth Caldwell and Theodore Hiebert- This book beautifully describes how people are different just as animals, places, and foods are different from each other. The illustrations show the diversity in so many things and people that make up our earth.
God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu- The author shares his vision of God’s dream with young readers and offers the essence of his ubuntu philosophy of unity and forgiveness.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud- Uses the metaphor of filling a bucket to encourage children to practice kind and considerate behavior and teach them the benefits of positive relationships.
Jordan’s Hair by Ed and Sonya Spruill- Written for children ages 4-8, this story teaches an invaluable lesson on self-love and self-esteem to young children of any ethnicity. A young African American boy discovers that being different from his friends at school is a good thing.
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester- The author introduces the concept of race as only one component in an individual’s or nation’s “story.”
Liberty’s Civil Rights Road Trip by Michael W. Waters- Liberty and her friend Abdullah, with their families and a diverse group of passengers, head off to their first stop: Jackson, Mississippi. Next on their map are Glendora, Memphis, Birmingham, Montgomery, and finally Selma, for a march across the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge. As told through the innocent view of a child, this bookserves as an early introduction to places, people, and events that transformed history. The story is inspired by an actual journey led by author Michael W. Waters, bringing together a multigenerational group to witness key locations from the civil rights movement. An author’s note and more information about each stop on Liberty’s trip offer ways for adults to expand the conversation with young readers.
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni- Using swatches of color and few words, the author tells about what happens when we don’t look at skin color. Targeted for 3 to 8 year olds, this book is appropriate for many ages.
Moonlight Miracle by Tony Magliano- In a world where racism and religious prejudice constantly endanger peace on all levels, this book sends a message, pure and profound in its simplicity, to inspire ‘all the big and little people’ to love and strive for peace.
Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox- Illustrations and simple, rhyming text show different ways that peace can be found, made, and shared.
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah James and Renee Watson)- A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived. With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.
Sharing God’s Love: The Jesus Creed for Children by Scot McKnight and Laura McKnight Barringer- Children are transformed for Christ when they learn to love God and others intentionally. The Jesus Creed is “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love other people as yourself.”
The Spider Weaver: The Legend of Kente Cloth by Margaret Musgrove- This is the story of a beautiful spider and the magical web she weaves. Her web becomes the basis for a unique new fabric: kente cloth.
The Story of And: The Little Word That Changed the World by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso- When an array of opinionated shapes just can’t find common ground, AND comes to the rescue. In this playful fable about unexpected connections, AND is the link that helps all the shapes overcome their differences teaming up to create something entirely new.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles- As the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school, six-year-old Ruby Bridges found herself in the center of a storm of hatred and prejudice. Each day she faced angry protesters as she was escorted to and from first grade by federal marshals. This is her extraordinary true story.
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson- By piecing together scraps of cloth with scraps of information gathered from the other slaves, Clara fashions a beautiful quilt which is a map to freedom.
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges- This is the story of a pivotal event in history as Ruby Bridges saw it unfold around her. Ruby’s poignant words, quotations from writers and from other adults who observed her, and dramatic photographs recreate an amazing story of innocence, courage, and forgiveness.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery (2016)- As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carol Boston Weatherford- A master of children’s nonfiction, the author transports readers back to Greenwood, aka Black Wall Street, not only to the day of the Tulsa Race Massacre 100 years ago, but also to the days preceding the tragedy. She and Floyd Cooper paint a portrait of the thriving community, and by bringing Greenwood back to life, they make the loss feel all the more devastating. (For ages 8 to 12)
A Very Big Problem by Amy-Jill Levine- In God’s garden, Land, Plants, Earthworms, Children, and more proclaim that they are special, and it is only fair that God should love them best. Includes note to parents and educators
Walking Toward Peace by Kathleen Krull- Tells the true story of Peace Pilgrim, a female activist and spiritual leader who sacrificed everything to travel by foot around America promoting peace.
What Grew in Larry’s Garden by Laura Alary- Inspired by a true story of a teacher and his tomato project, this heartwarming tale proves a bit of kindness and understanding are all a community needs to thrive.
What If the Zebras Lost Their Stripes? by John Reitano- If the zebras lost their stripes and became different from one another, some white and some black, would they turn and fight each other and stop living life as loving friends?
When God Gave Us Words by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso- The author creates a tale about the origin of words and the power and usage of language. Beautiful illustrations add to the charm of this children’s book.
Who Counts?: 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, 2 Sons by Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso- This is a creative retelling of three of Jesus’ most popular parables; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. As young readers count to help the characters find what’s missing, it concludes that every one of us counts and that everyone should feel counted.
Who Is My Neighbor? by Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso- This book
reminds us that our neighbors are the ones who care about us. They may not have the same customs, they may not look just like us, but they are God’s children, and they care for us.
Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka- Two lonely characters, one black and one white, meet on the street and become friends. With few words and telling illustrations, the story of life and the importance of friendship is portrayed. This book is a Caldecott Honor Book, is for all ages.
Most of the Lenten resources listed below are found in the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery Resource Center (Catalog). The materials in the Resource Center may be borrowed by churches and individuals. You can visit the Resource Center (4701 Park Pl W, North Charleston 29405) or make other arrangements for borrowing the materials. If you want to purchase copies, most of the resources are available from PCUSA Store or Amazon. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pie Mikell (firstname.lastname@example.org; 843-766-4219).
ADULT FAITH FORMATION
The Presbyterian Outlook and Presbyterians Today both provide Lenten devotionals for congregations. These are not available at the moment. Watch the CHAT Line for an update. To sign up for the CHAT Line (weekly presbytery enewsletter) go here
A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent by Saah Parsons- The book encourages readers to clear space each day and observe God’s action in that space, inviting them to explore themselves and their lives in order to make room for God to enter more deeply. Each week explores a stage in a unique Lenten process of self-opening, and it offers individuals activities, reflection questions, and group sessions to engage readers in deep personal work.
Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word– Year C edited by Kathleen Long Bostron- Each day of the week contains Scripture passages for the coming Sunday from the Revised Common Lectionary, excerpts from the commentaries for reflection, a response, and a prayer. Additional material is provided for each Sunday. This is a year long devotional beginning with Advent and concluding on Christ the King Sunday.
40 Days, 40 Prayers, 40 Words: Lenten Reflections for Everyday Life by Bruce Reyes-Chow- The author encourages readers to pause in the bustle of their daily lives to reflect, engage, and share during the Lenten season. Forty devotions are each framed around a word inspired by the daily lectionary readings and include a short scriptural passage, inspirational prayer, and reflection. Readers who feel too busy for daily engagement with God will appreciate Reyes-Chow’s ability to speak to the blessings and burdens of everyday life in a concise, lively manner. Moreover, readers also have the ability to connect with others through interactive elements like QR codes that link to social media and provide access to additional reflections, graphics, and prayers. This unique resource expands the ways we can connect with God, and with each other, both during Lent and at any time along our journeys of faith. Follow along using the hashtag: #40wordprayer.
God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer- These forty-seven devotions will guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Lent and Easter, encountering themes of prayerful reflection, self-denial, temptation, suffering, and the meaning of the cross. Passages from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letters and sermons provide special encouragement as readers prepare themselves spiritually for Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Supplemented by an informative introduction to Bonhoeffer’s life and a Scripture passage for each day of the season, these daily devotions are moving reminders of the true gift of Christ on the cross.
Holy Solitude: Lenten Reflections with Saints, Hermits, Prophets, and Rebels by Heidi Haverkamp- While most of us can’t take weeks or even a few days-for private retreat, This book offers readers thoughtful inspiration and practical ideas for quiet reflection and deep devotion to experience God more powerfully this Lent. Daily reflections introduce readers to figures in both Scripture and Christian history whose stories of discernment and discipline are a guide for our own spiritual practices as we seek to know God more fully and follow Christ more faithfully.
The Journey to Jerusalem: A Story of Jesus’ Last Days by John Pritchard- In this imaginative retelling, John Pritchard explores the Gospel of Luke by looking through the eyes of the disciple John. The book follows Luke’s account from Luke 9:51, as Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” It provides weekday readings for Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, along with a poem for each Saturday. Questions for reflection and discussion are also included.
Lent for Everyone: Luke, Year C- A Daily Devotional by N. T. Wright- This resource provides readers with an inspirational guide through the Lenten season, from Ash Wednesday through the week after Easter. The author provides his own Scripture translation, brief reflection, and a prayer for each of the days of the season, helping readers ponder how the text is relevant to their own lives today. By the end of the book readers will have been through the entirety of Luke, along with Psalm readings for each Sunday.
Lent of Liberation: Confronting the Legacy of American Slavery by Cheri L. Mills- This Lenten devotional invites readers to learn more about the brutal institution of slavery and its impact on Black people in America and recognize how its evolution and legacy continue to harm their descendants in the United States today. Each of the forty devotions includes the testimony of a person who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad, a Scripture passage, and a reflection connecting biblical and historical themes to challenge modern readers to work for liberation. Reflecting on Lenten themes of exodus, redemption, discipline, and repentance, readers, both Black and white, will be empowered for the work of racial justice.
You can access free digital resources, which include a group study guide, sermon series guide, and images for use during worship or study and to promote your outreach, at www.wjkbooks.com/LentofLiberation.
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar edited by Kerri Allen and Donald McKim- Readers will contemplate Scripture, the Belhar Confession, and the meanings that emerge as the Confession is studied phrase by phrase during the season of Lent. The devotions were written by a variety of Presbyterians, reflecting on a portion of the Confession in relation to Scripture texts that are associated with the Confession. The forty-seven devotions cover the days of Lent, plus Sundays.
Meditations on the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer- The cross and the resurrection were central themes for Bonhoeffer’s theology. These excerpts from sermons and letters contain his personal and faithful words about the crucifixion and the power of the cross for all Christians. Meditations on the Cross is ideal for devotional reading and personal reference.
Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent by Rowan Williams- The author explores the essential meaning and purpose of Paul’s letters in this beautifully written resource for the Lenten season. Williams places a special focus on the social world of Paul-and the “dangerous newness” that was Christianity-and the specific ways that the behavior and language of the Christian community was being molded and shaped in Paul’s time. Easy-to- read and packed with illuminating spiritual insights, Questions for reflection or group discussion are provided for each chapter. The book also features a reading guide that includes a reflection and prayer for each of the seven weeks of Lent.
A Pilgrim’s Way: Meditations for Lent and Easter by J. Barrie Shepherd- Based on the Common Lectionary, the author presents a Lenten prayer diary with forty-seven days of morning and evening prayers. The prayers are derived from suggested lessons of the scripture. Themes include suffering, repentance, and joyful welcome of Christ’s resurrection.
Resurrection Rain: Meditations for Holy Week by Arthur Fogartie- The author brings an insightful collection of meditations for the Easter season. Presented in a story sermon format, each tale is designed to offer pause for daily reflection during Holy Week.
The Road to Emmaus by Helen Julian- Eight companions from the past bring wise counsel for today’s spiritual pilgrimage. Daily readings, scriptural reflections, and prayers lead the reader from Ash Wednesday to Easter. At the end of each week’s readings, there is a suggested exercise called “Performance” for expanding on the readings.
Season of Ash and Fire: Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter by Blair Meeks- In addition to prayers and liturgies for Ash Wednesday through Ascension Day, this book includes suggested theme and symbols for the Sundays of Lent, daily Scripture readings for Lent and the Fifty Days of Easter, household prayers for Lent and Easter, and an order for Lenten study groups.
A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent by Walter Brueggemann- Lent recalls times of wilderness and wandering, from newly freed Hebrew slaves in exile to Jesus’ temptation in the desert. God has always called people out of their safe, walled cities into uncomfortable places, revealing paths they would never have chosen. Despite our culture of self-indulgence, we too are called to walk an alternative path-one of humility, justice, and peace. Walter Brueggemann’s thought-provoking reflections for the season of Lent invite us to consider the challenging, beautiful life that comes with walking the way of grace.
Were You There? Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals by Luke Powery- The African American spirituals provide profound insights into the human condition and Christian life. Many spirituals focus on the climax of the Christian drama, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the ways in which those events bring about the liberation of God’s people. In these devotions for the season of Lent, the author leads the reader through the spirituals as they confront the mystery of Christ’s atoning death and victory over the grave. Each selection includes the lyrics of the spiritual, a reflection by the author on the spiritual’s meaning, a Scripture verse related to that meaning, and a brief prayer.
Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen by Rachel Hackenberg- Designed for use during any 40-day period, this book relieves you of the self-consciousness of trying to pray “the right way.” Ideal for Lent, the book includes a special section of prayers and prompts for Holy Week and Easter.
An Acceptable Feast: An Adult Lenten Study by Patricia Tull- In this six-week study the author begins each session by locating the biblical verses in their original context and then exploring a key Lenten theme related to the text. Themes include: voice gratitude, take the long view, choose well, accept responsibility, welcome the future and trust God in times of conflict. Each session ends with a meditation on how the text speaks to our modern situation. A leader’s guide accompanies each handout and assists a facilitator in leading a 45-minute class utilizing the week’s handout. A take-home question for reflection is also provided each week for participants’ home Lenten meditation.
Easter from the Backside: A Different Look at the Story of Christ’s Resurrection by Ellsworth Kalas- The author opens up new possibilities of insight into the biblical Easter story. The author looks beyond the traditional gospel scriptures to connect the story of Christ’s resurrection with other stories and scriptures throughout the Bible, including both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Chapter titles and Scriptures include: “Why We Need Easter” (Genesis 3:1-7, 22-24); “Easter from an Ash Heap” (Job 19:13-27); “Easter for the Disillusioned” (Ecclesiastes 2:14-26); “Ezekiel Celebrates Easter” (Ezekiel 37:1-10); “Easter Is a Love Story” (John 20:1-18); “Late for Easter” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11); and “Forever Easter” (Revelation 21:1-4).
Final Words from the Cross by Adam Hamilton- This study explores Jesus’ final words as seen and heard through the eyes and ears of those who stood near the cross. This kit includes a 6-session DVD with a guide, and a book.
Forgiveness: A Lenten Study by Marjorie J. Thompson- In six brief chapters, the author addresses such questions as the following: Is forgiveness a Christian duty under all circumstances? Are there situations when Christians do not need to forgive? Is forgiveness a matter between individuals, or is it meaningful only in the context of communities? Is forgiving the best route to healing for the injured? How do we get past emotional barriers to real forgiveness? Using biblical examples and real-life situations, Thompson illustrates each chapter’s theme in an informative and engaging way. A study guide is also included at the back of the book.
Give Up Something Bad for Lent by James Moore- During Lent each year, Christians give up something as an act of sacrifice and spiritual discipline. Often it is something like chocolate, knowing that after Easter Sunday they can once again enjoy what they have given up. James Moore challenges readers to take it further―to give up something spiritually that they would be better off not doing. He invites all to seek God’s help to focus on eliminating one habit or attitude that is destructive. Imagine giving up envy, jealousy, self-pity, apathy, procrastination, gossip, resentment, or negative thinking, how much better life would be. The study includes seven sessions, one for each Sunday in Lent and Easter Sunday. Each session features a Scripture reference, a personal reading, questions for personal reflection or group study, and closing prayer.
Hosanna: A Spiritual Journey Through Holy Week by Carol Miller- This study invites participants to explore the main texts in all four Gospels and Paul’s writings that deal specifically with the last week of Jesus’ life and with the resurrection. Paul’s writings are also crucial to this study as a witness to the resurrected Christ. There is a leader’s guide and separate participant’s book.
Illuminating Lent by Donald K. McKim- This study will provide learners an opportunity to deepen their faith and knowledge through the exploration of the Lord’s Prayer. Each session examines a part of the prayer, its theological understandings, and what it means for Reformed Christians in practical ways during Lent. This study has a participant’s book and separate leader’s guide. (from Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding curriculum series)
Interpreting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out by Walter Brueggemann- This book illustrates that the Bible is filled with stories where marginalized people break repressive silence and speak against it. Examining how maintaining silence allows the powerful to keep control, Brueggemann motivates readers to consider situations in their lives where they need to either interrupt silence or be part of the problem, convincing us that God is active and wanting us to act for justice. The themes explored through eight chapters are a unique Lenten study experience. Questions for discussion are included for each chapter.
Lent in Plain Sight: A Devotion Through Ten Objects by Jill Duffield- In this devotional for the season of Lent, the author draws readers’ attention to ten ordinary objects that Jesus would have encountered on his way to Jerusalem: dust, bread, the cross, coins, shoes, oil, coats, towels, thorns, and stones. In each object, readers will find meaning in the biblical account of Jesus’ final days. Each week, readers encounter a new object to consider through Scripture, prayer, and reflection. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, this book reminds Christians to open ourselves to the kingdom of God. You can access free digital resources, which include a group study guide, sermon series guide, and images for use during worship or study and to promote your outreach, at www.wjkbooks.com/LentInPlainSight.
Living Into Lent by Donald McKim- The author encourages readers to set aside time during the Lenten season to reflect on their Christian identities, listen to God’s Word and will, and engage in practices that deepen the Christian experience through discipleship. Whether used for congregational study or personal reflection, each reading features Scripture, devotion, theological quote, response, and prayer. Theological quotes, drawn from the history of the Reformed church, will help readers better understand God’s Word and its implications for the Lenten journey. Readings are enhanced by a seven-session study guide and questions for conversation in the back of the book.
Looking at the Cross by James D. Miller- This six-session study explores New Testament themes associated with the cross-forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. This study offers ways the cross directly affects our faith and daily lives. There is a separate leader’s guide and participant’s booklet. (from Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understandingcurriculum series)
Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer: An Adult Study Pack for Lent by Carol Wehrhiem and J. Ellsworth Kalas- Lent is an appropriate time to consider the prayer Jesus taught us to pray in a careful way. Participants will enjoy the many reflections and information the author provides. Each of the six sessions concentrates on a major theme or phrase of the prayer in the hope that we will be renewed in our reflections during Lent and intentional as we pray this familiar prayer. The Leader’s Guides provide a structured session plan, complete with prayers, activities for all learning types, and teaching alternatives so that leaders can customize the session for their group. The ultimate goal of this is is that participants will pause to think as they speak this prayer, allowing them to experience a more significant meaning in the Lord’s Prayer.
Seeking the Intercultural Church: An Adult Lenten Study by Samuel Son- This six-session adult Lenten study pack examines the biblical foundations for seeking the intercultural church and helps congregations understand the challenges many may face along the way. Ultimately, participants will spend the Lenten season working toward discovering and discussing the cost and joy of the spiritual discipline of repentance, and what it can look like for a congregation seeking intercultural transformation. Included in the download is a leader’s guide and participant’s page.
Seven Days to Glory: Holy Week by Blair Monie- The last week of Jesus’ life encompassed some of Christianity’s most significant events. Based on the Gospel of Mark, this study looks at each of these days to describe the importance of Jesus’ actions at the time, and what they mean for Christian living today. There is a separate leader’s guide and participant’s booklet. (from Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding curriculum series)
The Sign and the Sacrifice: The Meaning of the Cross and Resurrection by Rowan Williams- The author presents the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as viewed through the eyes of those who witnessed them. The book explores the meaning of the cross and the significance of Christ’s resurrection, discussing what these events meant to Jesus’ followers in the early years and what they can say to us today. Questions for discussion are included.
A Time to Grow: Lenten Lessons from the Garden to the Table by Kara Eidson – This study encourages readers to slow down, move through the painstaking process of growth, and end together with great feasting and celebration of the resurrection. Themes of soil, water, light, time, fasting, feasting, and more guide the way from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Readers will explore the intricacies of how faith is required to produce food and how that faith can lead us all to feast at the table on Easter morning. Additional elements are included to enhance communal spiritual practice for small groups or the entire congregation during Lent. These elements include sermon prompts, liturgies with communal responses, art ideas for decorating worship spaces, and prompts for children’s time in worship.
24 Hours That Changed the World by Adam Hamilton- In this book, Adam Hamilton guides participants through the last twenty-four hours of Jesus’ life. This seven-session kit contains a book, DVD, leader’s guide, and “$0 Days of Reflection” devotional guide. Each chapter is designed to help the reader experience and understand the significance of Jesus’ suffering and death.
Temptation in the Desert by Craig Barnes- The story of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness after his baptism offers important instructions for us as we consider our Christian life. This study discusses ways the temptations that Jesus faced are still real for us today. An excellent study for the Lenten season or any time in the church year. There is a separate leader’s guide and participant’s booklet. (from Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding curriculum series)
Walking with Jesus Through the Old Testament: Devotions for Lent by Paul Stroble- Readers are invited to embark on the journey to Emmaus with Jesus through the Lenten season. The author images what Jesus would have said to his companions and guides readers along the way with 46 devotions referencing the Old Testament. At the end of each chapter there is a short section called “Dig Deeper.” There are some questions and other ideas for ways to minister in your community.
What Wondrous Love Is This: Holy Week in Word and Art– This 6-session DVD presents the powerful story of Holy Week as told in the four gospels. Each passage of scripture is illustrated by the stunning artwork of John August Swanson, along with a commentary by members of Candler’s faculty.
The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs- These three Marys had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. There is a study guide to help with discussion of each chapter.
Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems- In a powerful and creative way, the author brings new insight into the Lenten season by providing seventy-one poems of inspiration. With her intuitive and heartening poems, Weems takes the reader on a pensive journey through Lent and Easter.
Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross by William Willimon- The subtitle for this book gives the reader an idea of the book’s contents. The author has written a series of sermons that could be used during Holy Week on the last words of Jesus. Each chapter begins with a prayer and Scripture passage. The sermons follow with Willimon’s own theology of the cross.
We Have Seen the Lord!: The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ by William Barclay- This book draws on the wisdom of the Gospels to trace the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, from his entrance into Jerusalem to his resurrection and appearances to his disciples. Barclay conveys the continuing power of scripture in engaging readable prose.
YOUTH FAITH FORMATION
Forgiveness (from Faith Questions curriculum)- This six-session study explores the questions: “What Motivates God to Continue Loving Us?,” “Why Did God Make Humanity So Sinful?,” “If We Are All So Bad, Why Doesn’t God Just Start Over in Another World?,” “Is Anything Unforgivable?,” “Why Should I Forgive?,” and “How Do I Forgive?”
Holy Living: A Youth Lenten Study by Brian Coulter- The purpose of this six-week Lenten study pack for youth is to guide participants on a Lenten journey where they flesh out what it means to be holy and how they might discover a sense of identity, belonging, and purpose along the way. Youth will examine Scripture and their calling to a life of faith in order to better understand how holy living is a call to be set apart: set apart from all that is not holy, set apart with all who are holy, and set apart for all that is holy. Included in the download is a leader’s guide and participant’s page.
Preparing for the Wilderness: A Youth Study Pack for Lent by Kathy Wolf Reed- This six-week study invites youth to explore various Scripture passages that are connected to nature and discuss the themes found within them. Each session uses one of the following Bible stories: Jesus’ experience of temptation in the wilderness; God’s promise to Noah following the great flood; the relationship between Sarai and Hagar; the story of the Israelites complaining in the wilderness; the role of the Psalms in Scripture; and the story of the Samaritan Woman. Each lesson has a leader’s guide and participant’s page.
Salvation (from Faith Questions curriculum)- Our study of salvation will center on four significant themes: deliverance, healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation. God’s salvation is the central plot of the Bible. The story begins with the exodus; God delivered the Israelites, the descendants of the covenant, from slavery in Egypt and revealed his holy name. The exodus interpreted their past and defined their future. At the heart of the deliverance story is salvation in Jesus Christ. Another way salvation is defined in the Bible is through God’s gifts of healing and wholeness. As disciples of Christ, we are called to cooperate in salvation as part of God’s healing team. Salvation is God’s gracious act. We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. The good news is that in Jesus Christ our sin is forgiven; it is not something that we have earned. Jesus saves and we are embraced in God’s grace and love. Finally, the death of Jesus upon the cross is God’s supreme act of reconciliation. The mystery of salvation is that God’s love is known through the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus; God’s power is revealed in weakness. In Christ we are reconciled to God. And so we are called to the ministry of reconciliation.
7 Deadly Sins and Holy Virtues: A Youth Study Pack for Lent by David Maxwell- This playfully engaging, yet deadly serious seven-session youth study explores the famous list of seven deadly sins, or vices, and their corresponding heavenly virtues that Christians should aspire to practice: lust/chastity, gluttony/temperance, greed/generosity, sloth/caring, wrath/patience, envy/love, and pride/humility. The study may be used during any time of the year, but it is particularly appropriate for the Lenten season. Each session examines one vice/virtue and defines the terms through biblical examples and case studies. Youth are challenged each week to look for examples of both the vice and virtue in their world and report back the following week. In addition, a time is given for personal reflection about how to address the vice and nourish the virtue in their lives of faith. There is a participant’s page and leader’s guide for each session.
Temptation (from Faith Questions curriculum)- This six-session study explores the questions: “What Is Repentance?,” “Does Baptism Really Change Anything?,” “What’s the Big Deal with Turning Stones to Bread?,” “Can I Really Trust God?,” “Shouldn’t Faith Make Things Easy?,” and “Are Angels Real . . . Really?”
D365.org – This is a year-round daily devotional for youth that contains scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. There are special Advent and Lenten themes during those liturgical seasons.
CHILDREN’S FAITH FORMATION
Before and After Easter by Debbie Trafton O’Neal- A wealth of ideas and specific activities, including crafts, service projects, reflection ideas and suggestions for family worship, are included for each day in Lent and through the weeks of Easter to Pentecost. The book also includes a daily Bible passage for reading together.
The Easter Garden: A Lenten Experience for Children by Dphna Flegal- This resource is done as a preparation for a congregational meal and worship experience. Children will create a garden setting for the meal filled with symbolic meaning, banner symbols for worship, and table decorations for the congregational meal. There is an opportunity for service included as part of each session.
Ideas A-Z: Easter by Phyllis Wezeman, Anna Liechty, and Judith Chase- This resource offers a balanced variety of methods for experiencing the story of the resurrection. For every letter of the alphabet, there is a different theme and a unique way of exploring that topic such as puppetry, music, drama, games, or storytelling.
Last Things (from Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible Curriculum)- Wonder about Holy Week with the unit Last Things. Help children celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Help children consider why we need rules and what role they play in our society as you learn about the greatest commandment that Jesus teaches. Reflect on how important it is to help others and how that helps us see Jesus. Look for ways we can help others in our own community. Explore the Passover meal what you eat, what it meant for Jesus and his disciples, how communion is connected to this meal. Children hear the story of Jesus’ death, in an age-appropriate way, to understand that we can only know the joy of the resurrection if we know that he died and was buried. Sessions included in this unit: Jesus Visits Jerusalem (Luke 19:29–40); Remember to Love! (Matthew 22:36–40); Seeing Jesus (Matthew 25:31–46); A Passover Meal (Luke 22:1–20); and Jesus Dies (Luke 23: 1–49). Last Things has an at-home kit guide as an accompanying download found at the bottom of the page (here) . This guide helps you put together a kit of supplies and activities from this unit for families to do at home.
Lessons for Lent: Learning About Jesus Through His Names by Anna Leichly and Phyllis Wezeman- This book could be used as a six-session children’s or intergenerational Bible study during the season of Lent. There is a variety of activities that could be used for church school sessions, midweek programs, retreats, or even as curriculum for a Vacation Church School.
Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary- This unique book teaches children to experience Lent with all their senses, and to see it as a special time for creating a welcoming space for God. Simple activities like cleaning a room, making bread and soup, and inviting a neighbor for supper become acts of justice and kindness, part of a life of following Christ.
Programs and Celebrations: Special In-Church Presentations for Children, Teens, and Adults by Judy Gattis Smith- The purpose of this book is to help those responsible for church programming–planning and carrying out events. For children there are suggestions for Thanksgiving, Easter, Summer, Christmas, and worship. Programs for teens include mission, graduates, and Valentine. For adults there are ideas for Teacher Appreciation, Newlyweds, Christmas, Retirement, and displays.
Seasons to Celebrate: God’s Children the Year by Mary Albing- This resource provides a description of the church seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost; several craft ideas based on an appropriate seasonal symbol; and suggestions for celebrating that season with litanies, songs, and drama. Also included are creative intergenerational projects based on key events in the Christian story.
Sharing the Easter Faith with Children by Carolyn Brown- The author helps congregations and families share the Easter message with their children and include the children meaningfully in Lent, Holy Week, and Easter observances. The book provides teachers and parents with practical ways to help children observe Lent and Eater, includes materials for children from birth to age 12, and includes a reproducible booklet for parents.
Surprises (from Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible Curriculum)- Wonder about the stories of Easter and Eastertide in Surprises unit. This unit begins with the story of the women finding an empty tomb in the early on Easter morning. Reflect on how great surprises can be in our own lives and how Jesus’ surprise was the greatest surprise ever! Wrestle with the story of Thomas and his doubts about Jesus overcoming death. Let children ponder what questions they would have for Jesus if they were Thomas. Explore the story of The Road to Emmaus and how the breaking of bread together plays a role in our relationships. Sessions included in this unit: Women at the Tomb (Luke 24:1–12); Memory and Surprises (Luke 24:13–35); Mary Finds Her Friend (John 20:11–18); Thomas Wants to See (John 20:19–31); and Jesus Gives Peter a Job (John 21:15–19). Surprises has an at-home kit guide as an accompanying download found at the bottom of the page here. This guide helps you put together a kit of supplies and activities from this unit for families to do at home.
The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Jan and Mike Berenstain- Some Sunday school students tell the cubs about Jesus’ resurrection and show them that salvation is much sweeter than candy. The book includes some activities and questions for children.
Easter A to Z by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger- Beginning with Jesus’ last supper with the Apostles, the Easter story is told using verses from the gospels. Important words from the verses are arranged alphabetically along the page, and the art that accompanies the text is historically accurate.
Good News Travels Fast: An Easter Story by Lisa Flinn- Good news does travel fast as Sarah learns that Jesus is alive! She tells her friend, who tells another, who tells another. And each time, the news bearer shares a lesson learned form Jesus’ life. Soon everyone in Jerusalem knows the good news of the Resurrection.
It Looks A Lot Like Easter by Peg Augustine and Pedro Lopez (English and Spanish)- After a long winter, the first blooms of spring remind us that God never forgets us. From crocus flowers to Easter lilies to Easter eggs, the images of Easter are tied to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Tthis storybook is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Sing Allelulia!: An Easter Story for Children bu Daphna Flegal- Through poetry, this book tells the story of Jesus, the king who came to earth as a tiny baby and grew up to tell God’s promises to all people. A tone of celebration is carried through the book with a song until Jesus is arrested, but the song comes again when the women discover the empty tomb.
Sunlit Morning by Peg Augustine and Pedro Lopez (English and Spanish)- This is the story of a worship experience at a community sunrise service. Each page of the book includes Scripture and biblical art that tell the story of Easter.
Take Time for Easter by Peg Augustine and Emmanuel Vargas (English and Spanish)- This story asks children to “Stop, Look, and Listen” as they discover signs of the traditional Easter story all around them. Each page invites children to “look” at the signs of new life appearing all around them and to discover the meanings of various symbols of the season. They are invited to “listen” to the sounds of spring and recall the message that Jesus offers us new life.
Three Easter Journeys by Ro Willoughby- This book includes the story of Jesus’s ride into Jerusalem, the story of the two Marys as they approach the cave where Jesus had been buried, and the story of the disciples waiting for Jesus to join them in Galilee. The paper sculptures make this a beautiful book.
INTERGENERATIONAL FAITH FORMATON
The Drama of Easter edited by Rhonda Wray- This anthology of royalty-free Easter plays for all ages includes contemporary and traditional dramatic approaches. Included are twenty scripts for Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter that could be used in a variety of settings: Tenebrae service, sunrise service, children’s programs, readings, and monologues
Faithful Families: For Lent, Easter, & Resurrection by Traci Smith- This resource features meaningful practices, activities, and prayers for the Lent and Easter seasons that will engage children of all ages.
Growing Together: Six Intergenerational Celebrations– Volume 2 (spring and summer) by Kathy Finley- This book contains resources, planning pages, and a wealth of experiential learning activities–everything you need for 6 intergenerational celebrations, suitable for spring and summer including Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.
Let Us Break Bread Together by Michael Smith and Rami Shapiro- This Passover guide provides a complete guide (plan and script) to a meaningful seder experience. The authors share a deeper knowledge of the great themes of the Exodus story, in combination with Christian insights, and opportunities for a better understanding of Lent and Holy Week.
Practice Spiritual Disciplines (from Follow Me: Biblical Practices for Faithful Living)- God’s central invitation to followers of Jesus is to draw near to God in Christ and to allow God, through the Holy Spirit, to transform us into Christ’s image. Christian spiritual disciplines and spiritual practices are ways in which we do that. Spiritual disciplines are usually thought of as those things that help us draw near to God and might include different forms of prayer, meditation, study, and service. Spiritual practices are seen as those things Jesus did, said, or embodied; we as Jesus’ followers try to do so as well. Many of the spiritual disciplines covered in this unit have emerged over the centuries as Christians have experimented with ways to make space in their lives to be with Jesus and to allow Jesus to transform them. This curriculum provides session plans for ages 3 through adults. The Congregational Guide provides worship helps, an intergenerational session, and much more.
Simply Easter: Simple Dramas, Speeches and Recitations for Children– Eight short plays and five readings for Holy Week are included in this book. They can be used for children’s time or for programs during Holy Week and are appropriate for all ages.
Things to Make and Do for Lent and Easter by Martha Bettis Gee- The creative activities in this book are designed to help put children in touch with the Easter story. At the heart of the creative process is the working of the Holy Spirit, moving and shaping and transforming everyone engaged in the act of creation.
The Lenten Tree by Dean Lambert Smith- Designed for children and adults, this Lenten book has a devotional for each of the forty days of Lent. Each day’s reading includes a symbol, a memory verse, questions, prayers, and songs to sing.
Creative Worship Ideas: 70 Meaningful Ways to Involve Teenagers in Worship edited by Lois Keefer- Youth leaders from all over the country have contributed their very best worship ideas–ideas they’ve used successfully in their youth groups and congregations. Ideas include prayers, scripture reading, music, dramas, and complete worship services on themes such as God’s love, Easter, and Christmas.
Worship For All Seasons: Selections from GATHERING for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter edited by Thomas Harding- Worship planners will find resources to support faith communities for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, as well as the Great Fifty Days. This volume offers suggestions for prayers, intergenerational worship suggestions, hymn and anthem ideas, music resources, and poetry and drama selections.
Downloadable Resources from The Thoughtful Christian:
“White Privilege” – This one-session adult study is part of the “Racism Study Pack” from The Thoughtful Christian. They are offering this downloadable resource for free at the links below. We encourage you to form a study group or email to members as a starting point. Consider purchasing the study pack from The Thoughtful Christian to continue your study as well. Download: Participant Handout | Leader’s Guide
Purchase the “Racism Study Pack”
“Responding to Racism” – This one-session youth study from The Thoughtful Christian helps leaders guide preteens and teens through the complicated subject of racism. We encourage you to either lead your youth through this study (in-person or virtually depending on your situation) or email to parents to encourage a family study. Download: Participant Handout | Leader’s Guide
For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World – This discussion and activity guide includes suggestions on how parents and teachers can talk with children about race and violence, ideas on how to create a safe space for meaningful dialogue, and more. The guide is inspired by For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World, an upcoming picture book by Michael W. Waters that will be available this September. It tells the story of a boy named Jeremiah and his family who discover hopeful forms of activism and advocacy in response to racism and gun violence in their community. Download the Discussion and Activity Guide. Preorder For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
Some Things to Do, Hear, Watch, and Read:
Books offered by The PC(USA) Store
Recommended Books to help talk to Children about Racism and Discrimination. It is also important to diversify our bookshelves so that our children see strong black characters in books that celebrate blackness and diversity: Children’s Books with Black Male Protaganists, Children’s Books with Black Female Protagonists. This BLM Instructional Library has children’s books organized by category, and if you click on the book, you can listen to a read aloud!
Charleston Stage is offering free access to their show 2014 The Seat of Justice. Enter password: EDUCATIONSOJ. “In 1947, a small group of parents in rural South Carolina set in motion a movement that would eventually lead to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The Seat of Justice celebrates the brave citizens of South Carolina who fought for justice and equality in the era of segregation. Julian Wiles’s acclaimed play chronicles this courageous journey of the historic Briggs v. Elliott desegregation case from rural Clarendon Country, SC to the halls of the United States Supreme Court.”
The PC(USA) is committed to Racial Equity and offers many resources through the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Union Presbyterian Seminary houses the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation
For up to date resources and information, follow the work of the PC(USA) Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry and The Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC, and The Charleston Area Justice Ministry on Facebook.
The Reason for Protest: A Statement from Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness PC(USA)
Presbyterian Mission Agency President and Executive Director Diane Moffett issues statement on recent protests, shootings: ‘It is a righteous and holy anger that sees injustice and knows that it is wrong’
Hymnal and Book of Common Worship Rights and Licensing Information
Worship Times Webinar on how to “Optimize Your Homepage for Covid-19 Isolation”
Zoom demos and video tutorials
Ten Tech Tips for Meeting Online from Next Church
1001 Worshipping Communities online ministry tools
Practical Resources for Churches has many pre-recorded webinars on technology and social media.
The Church.Digital also has many resources compiled on their website.
The PC(USA) Stated Clerk’s Office offers some suggestions.
Online Giving resources from the Presbyterian Foundation.
NEW FREE DEVOTIONS from These Days: Daily Devotions for Living by Faith! Access the full month of May devotions to continue your spiritual practices even during a time of social distancing: http://bit.ly/395qFnY
From Bethelwoods Camp and Conference Center: Stephen McDonald, Camp Director and Lexi Green, Camp Program Director are providing various activities throughout the week. To see the schedule and participate please visit their Facebook page.
The PC(USA) Office of Faith Formation has compiled this list of resources that could be helpful for you during the current COVID-19 situation and that may be helpful in developing sustainable remote faith formation for your community. In this list you will find resources to deal with the current crisis, studies for Christian education, blogs and ideas. This is your toolbox. The list will be updated periodically over the coming weeks.
Also provided is a Faith Practices Toolkit Sampler for intentional intergenerational Sabbath rhythms. A toolkit for faith practices will be released in summer 2020. The completed toolkit will provide scriptural and theological grounding for each practice, as well as ways to engage all ages. HERE is a sampling from that toolkit to provide ideas of engaging in practices during these times.
Check out these resources for all ages groups provided by the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators.
Due to the generous financial support of Central Seminary’s Thriving Congregations Initiative funded by The Lilly Endowment, Pinnacle Leadership Associates is able to offer free webinars each Tuesday. You can engage the recorded webinars on their website, while also seeing the topics coming over the next few weeks. If you would like to participate in the webinars, please register on the Pinnacle COVID-19 Emerging Church Practice webpage. Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle Leadership Associates Founder and Team Leader, has also created An Emerging Church Practice Resource – Church Leadership Guide: Stages Of Response To Coronavirus.
Looking for something for families and children to do? Sarah Coggins, Director of Children and Youth Ministries at First Presbyterian Church Orangeburg, has been sending out Bingo cards to her congregation. Check out the Adult and Children’s samples.
Brennan Breed, from Columbia Theological Seminary, and Chris Holmes, from First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, are teaming up with guest professors to offer an in-depth, spontaneous and unrehearsed five-week study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. “Office Hours: An Online Pop-up Bible Study” is a free, hour-long conversation livestreamed to Facebook every Sunday morning from 9:30AM to 10:30AM EST, beginning THIS SUNDAY, April 19th to May 17th. Participants who want a deeper experience may also register here to receive free access to course material, complete with syllabus, downloadable readings, and audio-video links for further study. If you are not on facebook, you can still enjoy the videos on our youtube channel. Videos will be posted after the Facebook livestreams.
Palmetto Presbyterian Church PenPals – Lynn Wiard, the Director of Faith Formation said, “We are having “Pen “Pals” for the time being. I am encouraging my parents to have their children write a note or a letter or draw a picture and mail it to one of our seniors in our church to let them know they are thought of and prayed for and loved. I got great parental support!”
The Presbyterian Mission Agency has put together resources for Remote Faith Formation for the Long Haul.
The Presbyterian Publishing Corporation is offering free resources, including These Days devotions and activities for children.
Presbyterian Women Bible Study – To help Bible study participants who cannot attend a face-to-face Bible study (or even pick up the disc at the church) continue their study, lessons seven, eight, and nine of the Love Carved in Stone Companion DVD are now available on PW’s YouTube channel. Many thanks to Ellen Stroup, PWP moderator of Tampa Bay (and others), for suggesting this new way of being PW community. Says Ellen: “We need to let the women know that we can all stay connected even in difficult times.” Visit PW Youtube Channel to access the videos.
Free Resources from Illustrated Ministry – HERE. They are also offering 20% off digital resources to help churches provide Lent and Easter Resources. Search their great offerings HERE and use code MARCH20.
Looking into the Lectionary – Reflections from The Presbyterian Outlook’s Editor, Jill Duffield can be found HERE.
Growing in Grace and Gratitude – Each week the PC(USA) Store be providing on their Facebook page a free story with corresponding activities and a pack of five coloring pages from the children’s curriculum, Growing in Grace and Gratitude. Click the links above for this week’s offering.
Won’t You be My Neighbor? – A free intergenerational online curriculum based on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood that could be adapted for families to use at home.
Throughout the month, we will be highlighting Back History Month resources available in the presbytery resource center:
African American Presbyterian Clergywomen: The First Twenty-Five Years by Karen V. Brown and Phyllis M. Felton- This book celebrates 25 years of service of African American Presbyterian clergywomen, whose ministries grace the PCUSA.
African American Congregational Histories– This notebook is a result of the Committee on Reunion and African American congregations in collecting their histories and putting them in written form.
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou- In her third autobiographical book, Maya Angelou tells of her time in Ghana and what it means to be an African American on the mother continent.
Call to Worship: African American Liturgical Resources edited by Kimberly Long- The essays in this edition of Call to Worship offer readers a deeper understanding of the history, theology, and practice of African American worship. It grew from the work of a task force of African American Presbyterian musicians, pastors, and scholars convened by the Office of Theology and Worship.
Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by Bell Hooks- This book shows the unfolding of female creativity and one strong-spirited child’s journey toward becoming a writer. She learns early on the roles women and men play in society, as well as the emotional vulnerability of children. She sheds new light on a society that beholds the joys of marriage for men and condemns anything more than silence for women. In this world, too, black is a woman’s color—worn when earned—daughters and daddies are strangers under the same roof, and crying children are often given something to cry about. Hooks finds good company in solitude, good company in books. She also discovers, in the motionless body of misunderstanding, that writing is her most vital breath.
The Education of a British-Protected Child by Chinua Achebe- This collection of essays provides a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria; considerations on the African-American diaspora, glimpses into the author’s extraordinary family life, and thoughts on the potent symbolism of President Obama’s election.
We have asked all presenters to provide any resources they used in their presentations. The list below includes only the classes where we have these materials. If you are a presenter and would like your material included, please email Eric H. Doss.
Donnie Woods-221st General Assembly
Leif Kehrwald: Faith Formation in a Post Sunday School Era
Jan Cook: Practice Makes Perfect
Leif Kehrwald: Analytics Don’t Lie
Jan Cook: Building a Highway to the Soul
Leif Kehrwald: Faith Formation in a Digital Age
The Rev. Donnie Woods, in cooperation with the other South Carolina Presbytery executives, has composed the following letter for distribution to everyone interested.
Please click here for a bulletin insert, provided by Presbyterian Outlook, that your church may use in it’s bulletin.
Dear Colleagues in Ministry,
I write to you from Detroit where the 221st General Assembly is currently meeting. Yesterday, the Assembly approved a measure giving pastors the discretion to perform same-gender marriages in states where it is legal. It offers the same discretion for churches with regard to the use of church property. The measure takes effect upon the conclusion of the General Assembly on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The Assembly also approved a proposed amendment to change the Constitution to include same-gender marriages in the church’s Constitution, passed the General Assembly but must be ratified by a majority of the church’s 172 regional presbyteries. Presbyteries have one year to vote on the proposed amendment. If a majority ratifies the amendment, it would take effect June 21, 2015
Below you will find a FAQ sheet that I hope will be helpful. Also, early next week, a pastoral letter from me and my four other colleagues of the South Carolina presbyteries will be emailed to all pastors and clerks of session.
Please join me in continuing to pray for the unity of the church which is Christ’s gift to us. Let us also, in these days, remember our baptism; and remember that love, charity, and forbearance are concrete ways that we live out our baptism in the community of faith.
Grace and peace,
Donnie R. Woods
Frequently Asked Questions regarding Same Gender Marriage and the PC(USA)
1. Are congregations and/or pastors required to participate in/host such weddings?
“In no case shall any teaching elder’s conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.” No pastor is compelled to perform a service of marriage nor a session compelled to use church property for a service of marriage.
2. Can a pastor in a state where it is not permitted perform a wedding in a state where it is?
The teaching elder has freedom of conscience. Beyond that, it would depend on whether the teaching elder is authorized under civil law to perform a wedding in the state where the wedding is to take place
3. Will sessions have the authority to permit (or not) same-gender marriage services in the church?
Yes. Nothing has changed about the authority of sessions in the way church property is used.
4. If a pastor is willing to preside at the marriage of a same-gender couple, can the session prohibit the pastor from doing so?
No. The session cannot compel the pastor nor can the pastor compel the session.
The pastor has the freedom of his or her own conscience and the session has the responsibility for providing for worship and making decisions about the use of church property.
5. Can the session make a categorical prohibition of same-gender weddings in its building?
Yes. Nothing has changed about the authority of the session with regard to the use of the church building.
6. What process did the General Assembly use to make this happen?
The General Assembly made an authoritative interpretation of the Constitution and proposed an amendment to the Constitution.
7. What is an authoritative interpretation (AI)?
An AI is an interpretation of the Constitution by the General Assembly or the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission. It is binding on all councils.
8. What is permitted according to the AI at the adjournment of the assembly?
Pastors may conduct a marriage service for same-gender couples and may do so where the community gathers for worship with the permission of the session. “In no case shall any teaching elder’s conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.”
9. What is an amendment to the Constitution?
An amendment to the Constitution is determined by the General Assembly, but must be confirmed by a majority of the presbyteries. All councils are under the authority of the Constitution.
10. What if the presbyteries refuse to vote on the amendment?
A majority of the presbyteries must vote for the amendment in order for it to become part of the Constitution. A non-vote has the effect of a “no” vote.
11. If the presbyteries do not approve changes to the Constitution, what is the effect on the authoritative interpretation (“AI”)?
The AI remains in place until it is superseded by another.
12. What is the timeline?
The same-gender marriage measure (the AI) takes effect upon the conclusion of the General Assembly on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The proposed amendment must be ratified by a majority of the church’s 172 presbyteries, which have one year to vote. If ratified, the amendment would take effect on June 21, 2015.
13. What is the actual language of the authoritative interpretation?
“Worship is a central element of the pastoral care of the people of God (W-6.3001, W-6.3010) in which a teaching elder’s discernment of the leading of the Holy Spirit is indispensable. The necessity of ensuring the exercise of freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture (G-2.0105) in the planning and leadership of worship has deep roots in our Reformed tradition and theology. Because a service of marriage is one form of such worship, when a couple requests the involvement of the church in solemnizing their marriage as permitted by the laws of the civil jurisdiction in which the marriage is to take place, teaching elders* have the pastoral responsibility to assess the capabilities, intentions, and readiness of the couple to be married (W-4.9002), and the freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture (G-2.0105) to participate in any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform.
“Exercising such discretion and freedom of conscience under the prayerful guidance of Scripture, teaching elders may conduct a marriage service for any such couple in the place where the community gathers for worship, so long as it is approved by the session; or in such other place as may be suitable for a service of Christian worship. In no case shall any teaching elder’s conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The authoritative interpretation of this section by the 203rd General Assembly (1991) (Minutes, 1991, Part I, p. 395, paragraphs 21.124–.128), and the subsequent authoritative interpretations of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission relying upon it, are withdrawn and replaced with this authoritative interpretation.”
*“As in other places in the Directory for Worship, the use of ‘teaching elders’ in this paragraph should be understood to include ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service.”
14. What is the actual language of the proposed amendment?
Amend W-4.9000 by striking the current text and replacing it with the following:
“Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people (traditionally a man and a woman) to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.
“In civil law, marriage is a contract that recognizes the rights and obligations of the married couple in society. In the Reformed tradition, marriage is also a covenant in which God has an active part, and which the community of faith publicly witnesses and acknowledges.
“If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. A couple requesting a service of Christian marriage shall receive instruction from the teaching elder, who may agree to the couple’s request only if, in the judgment of the teaching elder, the couple demonstrate sufficient understanding of the nature of the marriage covenant and commitment to living their lives together according to its values. In making this decision, the teaching elder may seek
the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service.
“The marriage service shall be conducted in a manner appropriate to this covenant and to the forms of
Reformed worship, under the direction of the teaching elder and the supervision of the session (W-
1.4004–.4006). In a service of marriage, the couple marry each other by exchanging mutual promises. The teaching elder witnesses the couple’s promises and pronounces God’s blessing upon their union. The community of faith pledges to support the couple in upholding their promises; prayers may be offered for the couple, for the communities that support them, and for all who seek to live in faithfulness.
“A service of worship recognizing a civil marriage and confirming it in the community of faith may be appropriate when requested by the couple. The service will be similar to the marriage service except that the statements made shall reflect the fact that the couple is already married to one another according to the laws of the civil jurisdiction.
“Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God.”