While still grieving the sudden and tragic death of its immediate past chair, the Rev. Buddy Dee Monahan, the Advocacy Committee on Racial Concerns (ACREC) soon to be the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (REAC) forged ahead with their efforts to be a prophetic voice to address issues of structural racism in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Rev. Thomas Priest Jr., chair of ACREC, said despite Monahan’s health concerns, he still did a powerful work. Monahan was killed in a tragic car accident earlier this year.
Attendees enjoyed their ice cream and toppings of choice as the Rev. Priest formally acknowledge the proposed name change of the committee from ACREC to REAC. “In the past we advocated for racial ethnic concerns, but now is the time to advocate for racial equity,” said Priest. REAC is made up of the five official caucuses recognized by the PC(USA). The committee briefing provided an opportunity to learn more about the resolutions being presented to the 223rd General Assembly (2018) by ACREC.
This year ACREC will present six resolutions to the General Assembly. ACREC is proposing not only changing its name but it is recommending a change in terminology for the church. The committee is proposing that the church use the term “people of color” rather than racial ethnic people. ACREC determined that the term racial ethnic was dated and very specific to the PCUSA. They want to make sure the name change was reflective of their work.
Resolution 09-05 is asking the Assembly to advocate for the human rights of all citizens of Yemen by acknowledging the devesting effects of war in Yemen and the US role in the war. It is directing the Presbyterian Mission Agency through the Office of Public Witness and the Presbyterian Mission at the United Nations to advocate for cessation of US military and financial support of Saudi Arabia’s Yemeni and a just political, not military solution.
“We want to make sure people who don’t speak English have an opportunity to fully participate in the life of the church,” said Tony Aja, moderator of the National Hispanic/Latino/a Presbyterian Caucus. Aja said ACREC wants the church to be more intentional about its effort to make sure the denomination is an intercultural church rather than a polycultural church. The resolution also wants the church to make it a priority to hire people of color and people who speak multiple languages.
Item 12-08, another resolution from ACREC on the status of Jerusalem recommends the GA to direct ACREC and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Police in consultation with the Office of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations prepare a report for the 224th General Assembly (2020) that reviews and describes the UN’s intentions for the status of Jerusalem.
Another ACREC resolution is asking the Assembly to require race audits of all six PC(USA) agencies. The committee recommends the GA direct the agencies to use a professional external race auditor who can best expose systemic bias and racism within each agency. ACREC believes it is imperative to bring in outside eyes to see where intentional or unintentional glass ceilings have been created for people of color in the PC(USA).
“The ACREC has evolved,” said Priest. “We have people who are ready to work and our work has evolved to a point where we can’t treat this work lightly,” he continued. “People don’t like to talk about race but we have to have the conversation and the conversation has to turn into action.”