“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Colossians 1: 19-20
White supremacy and systemic racism are diametrically opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are death-dealing powers that traffic in violence, oppression, idolatry, and blasphemy. They are an affront to the Triune God who exists as unity-in-diversity and who created the world in an explosion of dizzying difference.
We repent of YECA’s historic participation in oppressive systems and the perpetuation of white hegemony. YECA has been blessed by terrific leaders of color, including our founding organizer. Yet for much of our history, our organizational leadership has been disproportionately white, failing to reflect the diversity within the Evangelical movement and Christian faith to which we belong. Our recruitment and outreach strategies have largely excluded Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. We drink downstream from a theological legacy that is shaped by white settler culture, a culture of triumphalist conquest that views those outside its bounds as in need of correction and subjugation. For these sins, we confess.
We understand the gospel as the story of reconciliation between God, creation, and all people, and the central call of the Christian to actively participate in this ministry of reconciliation by the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the whole world (2 Cor 5:18, Joel 2:28, Act 1:8). Yet unity does not mean uniformity.
The apostle Paul understood this when he extolled the variety of gifts in the body of Christ: “all the members of the body, though many, are one body” (1 Cor 12:12). Paul suggests that without the diversity of spiritual gifts and graces there would be no Church at all: “If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, and one body.” (1 Cor 12:19-20). In Jesus’ own final hours, he prayed for the unity of his followers, that they would be one and would love one another, just as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-23).
Simply put, the body of Christ is not fully present when crucial parts of it are excluded.
The reconciling work of Christ is all-encompassing, holistic, and undivided. This means that in order to accomplish our mission of mobilizing our generation of young evangelicals to overcome the climate crisis, we must recognize that the universal work of reconciliation cannot be partitioned. The fight for climate justice and for racial justice are the same. The work of exposing the violent ideologies of both anthropocentric greed and of white supremacy is radically united.
We must confess the sin of division everywhere, lament oppression and violence everywhere, and seek healing and restored relationships everywhere (Is. 1:17, Is. 58:6, Mic. 6:8, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 4:3-6, Phil. 2:1-5, Hebrews 12:14).
This requires proactive engagement that goes beyond a passive desire for change, for we recognize that the powers and principalities of this world collude to create structures and systems designed to keep us separate and unequal (Eph. 6:12). We are called to an active orientation in our reconciling work and are warned against the sin of inaction in both the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, where Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45, emphasis added).
With this in mind, we recognize that:
- Throughout the history of the United States and the world, false divisions have been fabricated which have enabled and encouraged the subjugation, injury, and disenfranchisement of entire groups of people, particularly Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.
- Throughout the history of our country and the world, the voices of a privileged few have often set the agenda for the whole, with deleterious effects on those from whom power has been stripped.
- Poor and minority communities experience the brunt of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, a reality we cannot ignore as we seek to work towards affirming and lifting up the dignity and Image of God in all our neighbors, near and far.
- The ministry of reconciliation to which we are called by Christ requires that we clearly name the evils of white supremacy, racial terror, division, oppression, and marginalization in our society and that we actively oppose them.
- The status quo of racial and ethnic exclusion is systemic and actions to ameliorate the injustice of exclusion must be proactive, radical, and countercultural.
We thus understand antiracism to be a fundamental component of achieving the goal of serving God more fully and effectively in our work as an organization (Acts 6:1-7). We commit to dismantling structural biases within our organization that perpetuate white supremacy and the exclusion of Black, Indigenous and other people of color.
Therefore, we commit to the following:
- In order to reflect the full diversity of the U.S. evangelical community (24% people of color), we will continue to ensure that at least 25% of YECA’s Steering Committee and Senior Advisors are people of color.
- As an organization and as individual Steering Committee members, we will actively seek out relationships of accountability with organizations that are led by and serve people of color.
- As an organization and as individual Steering Committee members, we will seek to place ourselves under the leadership of people of color in pursuit of justice and holistic reconciliation.
- We will actively elevate the concerns, perspectives, and voices of the whole of the evangelical community in the United States in our work, and we will provide intellectual and programmatic space for new frameworks, approaches, and relationships regarding climate change action and advocacy.
- On an annual basis, the Steering Committee will participate in antiracism training to further our understanding of our participation in the perpetuation of white supremacy and to empower us to create an organizational structure and culture of antiracism.
- We will continue to embed our commitment towards racial justice as a high-level priority within YECA’s strategic plan.