Submitted by TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST and UNIVERSITY CHURCH
The Lord said to Moses: If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord... about something...stolen...or he commits any such sin that people may do - when he thus sins, and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner... Leviticus 6:1-5 (NIV)
The Law, the voice of the Old Testament Prophets as well as teaching of Jesus in the New Testament speak often, both emphatically and parabolically about repentance, restitution, restoration, and reconciliation. It is clear from the Law, as noted in Leviticus 6:4 that when something is stolen, obtained by deceit or through intentional or unintentional misdeeds, restitution plus "interest" must be made - in order to restore the wholeness of the community. Wholeness of the community and a communal life that honors and glorifies God was a central theme in the laws passed down by Moses. Repentance, Restitution, Restoration and Reconciliation are Required.
The prophets likewise quite eloquently urged and pleaded for God's people to reconcile with God - through a return to a focus on what God requires and a plea for God's people to heal the spirit of the oppressed, and to do what is necessary to proclaim the day of the" Lord's favor." As noted in Isaiah 61 (repeated again in Luke 4:18 as Jesus stated earthly mission and ministry focus), Isaiah known by some scholars as the greatest old testament prophet, summarizes God's request for God's people, by calling for the rebuilding of (and advocacy for), a united and healed community that glorifies God, honors who God is and calls us to be. Isaiah describes this community as one wherein the ancient ruins both figuratively and literally are restored, and a place where prior devastation is reversed, and despair is replaced by praise. Repentance, Restitution, Restoration and Reconciliation are Required.
the physician, and disciple of Jesus uses the story of Zacchaeus, a man
of Jewish heritage (a person by profession, denoted
as a "sinner" because of his oppression of and theft from the
poor), to demonstrate how Zacchaeus' exposure to Jesus, produced, an act
repentance and his "repayment" four fold to those he stole from.
used this account of an acknowledged sinner's encounter with Jesus, to
demonstrate that God is glorified and salvation accomplished through
And so it is with the issue of Reparations for African Americans. Christians, especially those of us in the family of the United Church of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ must be cognizant of the foundations set before us in the Old Testament Law, acknowledge that the voice of the prophets still speak to us today, and hold tight to the teaching of Christ. In summary we are called to embrace repentance, restitution, restoration and reconciliation.
There can be no dispute that Africans were forcefully and through deceit, stolen from Africa, oppressed, abused physically, emotionally and psychologically, and forced to work without pay - the highest and most inhumane form of theft. The law as well as New Testament says if something has been stolen - repayment four fold is required, i.e., reparations.
There can be no doubt
that one of the aftermaths of this horrible tragedy and smear on American
history and greatness, is racism both
institutional and personal, along with its pervasive counter part
white supremacy, which has produced a deep malaise of the human spirit
in a whole race of people. There can be no dispute that community is
broken - remaining unreconciled, and in need of restoration. There has
yet to be an official apology (repentance) for this great suffering
and tragedy. This great suffering as aptly noted and described by
Non-governmental Organizations and African Nations meeting as a part
of the African Regional Preparatory Conference for the UN World
Conference Against Racism, in January 2001 has resulted in,
substantial and lasting economic, political and cultural damage caused
to the descendants of the victims, the perpetuation of the prejudice
against Africans on the continent of people of the African descent in
the Diaspora, including and specifically the United States of America.
Both reparations and advocacy for a new community will demonstrate as it did for Zacchaeus - that salvation has truly come. We need repentance, restitution, restoration and reconciliation.
The following resolution
on Reparations for African Americans, supported by this theological rationale
and others, will assist the
Members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ began conversations on the issue of reparations for slavery following the Disciples Justice Action Network-sponsored Justice Jubilee 2000 gathering in Tulsa, Oklahoma in September 2000. It was noted that awareness and discussion of this issue occurs almost exclusively among African American clergy and those churches they serve, but is also a justice issue long overdue for the serious attention of Christian citizens motivated by faith and tradition. Members of two Illinois Conference congregations - Trinity UCC, Chicago and University Church, Chicago - have held church school classes and study groups on reparations.
This resolution calls
upon the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ, its Associations,
its local churches, and other
TEXT OF RESOLUTION:
WHEREAS: The institution of Slavery is internationally recognized as crime for which there is no statute of limitations, AND
WHEREAS: Uncompensated labor was demanded from enslaved Africans and their descendants for more than two centuries on U.S. soil; AND
WHEREAS: The principle that reparations is the appropriate remedy whenever government unjustly abrogates the rights of a domestic group or foreign people whose rights such government is obligated to protect or uphold has been internationally recognized including, but not limited to:
- German reparations to the State of Israel for the Holocaust
-United States reparations to Japanese Americans for illegal internment
-Reparations by the United Kingdom to the Maori people of New Zealand, AND
WHEREAS: This violation of human rights of Africans led a long legacy of subordination, segregation, and discrimination against descendants of slaves, AND
WHEREAS: In January
2000 a bill was presented in the U. S. House of Representatives: THE
COMMISSION TO STUDY REPARATIONS PROPOSAL FOR
AFRICAN AMERICANS' ACT (H.R. 40) by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), "To
WHEREAS: In the century and a half since the abolition of slavery the United States government has never acknowledged or taken responsibility for its role in the enslavement of Africans and the promotion of White Supremacy, AND
WHEREAS: The experience and legacy of enslavement, segregation and discrimination continues to limit the life chances and opportunities of African Americans, AND
WHEREAS: Christians must not only continue to call for the release of the captives (Leviticus 25:52) but also to proclaim liberty, bring good tidings to the afflicted, and build up the ancient ruins, (Isaiah 61) AND
WHEREAS: General Synod of the United Church of Christ has voted ten resolutions, statements, and pronouncements on racism since 1963; AND
WHEREAS: the Chicago Metropolitan Association at its Spring Annual Meeting held May 5, 2001 adopted a Resolution supporting Reparations For Slavery.
THEREFORE: be it resolved that the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ meeting June 6, 7 and 8, 2002, go on record supporting Reparations for Slavery and a process of study for; AND
THEREFORE: be it further resolved, that this resolution be communicated to the Associations, Congregations, and related agencies of the Illinois Conference for study and reflection and that the Illinois Conference; AND
THEREFORE: be it further resolved, that the Illinois Conference instruct its staff to communicate our support to Representative John Conyers for House resolution 40 which he presented to the U.S. House of Representatives; AND
THEREFORE: be it further resolved, that the Conference Minister write letters to all Illinois Members of the US House of Representatives asking them to sign on as co-sponsors of the resolution; AND
it further resolved, that the Illinois Conference UCC explore what actions
it might take to seek forgiveness for its
THEREFORE: be it further resolved, that this Resolution be enabled by the appointment of a Reparations Task Force, that includes members of the sponsoring congregations (Trinity UCC and University Church) and that the Task Force be instructed to engage associations, congregations and related agencies of the Conference in study and action; AND
THEREFORE: be it finally resolved, that funds for these efforts come from the Conference Justice and Peace Funds.
Presented to Annual Meeting June 2001
Amended and passed at Annual Meeting June 2002