Commitment to Social Mission

I am grateful to be part of a church with a commitment to listen, to learn, to act, to reflect, and to repent.

Jon Abels

When I think about FPC’s tagline, Love in the Heart of Durham, I think of the Racial Equity Task Force (REFT). The REFT was created at FPC in 2016 when several members in the congregation came together after completing training by the Racial Equity Institute (REI). We were all white people who were profoundly moved by our REI experience and felt compelled to share what we learned with others in our congregation. Prior to this training, I didn’t know a lot about white privilege, structural racism, and the history of oppression in our country. However, I knew that I couldn’t stop seeing what was previously invisible to me, and I found others at FPC who felt the same way.

So REFT began meeting monthly and developed programming to educate ourselves and others in the congregation. We held group discussions, movie screenings, book groups, and Sunday School classes. We also reached out to our brothers and sisters at Covenant Presbyterian, a historically black church in Durham, to join us in some of these activities including a visit to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro last year. This summer REFT is leading a 10-week class in Faith and Community on From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21th Century, a book by William Darity and Kristen Mullen. More than 50 people attend each week including some members of Judea Reform.

We recognize that there is much work to be done, and we are only scratching the surface to uncover the institutional racism and structural inequality that permeate our lives now and have for centuries. As a church comprised of predominately white members who have benefitted from these injustices, we are called on to challenge and correct them with people of color.

Fortunately we stand on the shoulders of those at FPC who previously reached out and established relationships with congregations of color and civic groups. We build on their efforts and on the contributions and learning we receive from our members of color and others in Durham.

I am grateful to be part of a church with a commitment to listen, to learn, to act, to reflect, and to repeat. I invite you to join in support of this work and the other important work of FPC.

Jon Abels

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