Politics & Passion

A Letter to Pittsburgh Presbytery from
Elder Ralph Lowe
Director of Justice Ministries
October 3, 2019

I wanted the feeling of political awareness. The energy and passion you felt when you read the heading fresh on your mind through this article. Let me be clear, this article is not about politics, at least in the sense of who is right or wrong as far as political party affiliation. No, this is a call to passion but not like any other you may have encountered.

Since the start of my tenure as the Director of Justice Ministries here at Pittsburgh Presbytery, I have received numerous well-wishes and affirmations from my brothers and sisters in Christ. During those times, two questions prevail: what is your passion (as it pertains to racial and social justice) and how can I help?

How do I answer these questions?

Tom Skinner, an African American evangelist and author of Black and Free, had these words to share when speaking of his transformation through Jesus Christ. “I became convinced that the only answer to the prejudice, bigotry, and hate that exists in the world today is that people allow the love of God through the person of Jesus Christ to be expressed through them.”

I recently attended a presbytery meeting where a few outstanding ministers celebrated their anniversary. During the testimony portion of one of the ministers celebrated, he reminisced not starting his college years with the intent of becoming a minister. He was an English major. But after standing at the far end of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool in Washington D.C. and hearing the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspirational I Have a Dream speech, decided within the next month to change his major to religion and so began his career in ministry of 50 years of service.

Inspired by a Christ-formed love and passion of another.

A few weeks ago the Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge in his piece titled Remembering Well, challenged our presbytery family to action helping to close the racial divide that exists in this nation by embracing part of Reverend Sheldon Stoudemire’s mission statement, “to intentionally listen to each other across our ongoing racial-ethnic divide, to each other’s ‘thoughts, ideas, complaints, dilemmas, and solutions.’”

Inspired by a Christ-formed love and passion of another.

What is my passion?

Brothers and sisters in Christ my passion is you. To love, educate, inspire and thoughtfully challenge you to respond to Christ and transform the world around you.

How can you help?

I believe those who have asked already know. Education, deep inner work, understanding implicit biases existing in our world today is part of the answer. We cannot begin to effectively address the racial and social injustices without education. But understanding, love, and affirmation fosters the most change by embracing the need to build cross-racial coalitions and making partnerships and friendships around social issues that matter to everyone involved is the most important help you can provide. Find ways to inspire others to be passionate about racial and social justice as yourself. If you are a church leader, let your passion be so intense that your congregations and counterparts are affected. If you are a church member, let your passion transform the person sitting next you in the pew. Allow your Christ-formed love and passion to inspire others! Help those on the fringe of participation move into the inner core activism.

This is not an easy task. Our PC(USA) lectionary a few weeks ago from Luke 14 highlighted the cost of discipleship. The message is heavy but important because simply, the cost of discipleship is hard and should not be taken lightly. Following the example of Jesus Christ is not easy. There are many crosses bared in discipleship, one of which is truly embracing our call as Christians to seek and eradicate injustice in the world today.

Politics has a way of invoking an energy and passion in most individuals, particularly high in recent days. That passion felt is needed in justice ministry and it will take all God’s people, through interpersonal relationships, challenging and changing institutional racial and social inequities in the world. Brothers and sisters, I look forward to your help.

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