GA News: Kim calls Presbyterian Church to racial confession, repentance

SAN JOSE -- Using his own church as an example, the Rev. Jin Kim, pastor of the Church of All Nations in Minneapolis, Minn., called for Christians to “lay down their sword of power and privilege and to walk humbly with God.”

Preaching Tuesday morning (June 24) at the meeting of the General Assembly here, Kim noted that “racism remains the mega-idolatry in the meta-narrative of American history,” and called for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to adopt the Belhar Confession [], a confession with roots in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and drafted in 1982 by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church.

Kim noted that he was speaking on the 40th anniversary year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and said, “Clearly, nations have tried to dominate other nations from the beginning of time; that’s nothing new.”

But he added, “So how then do Christian nations behave in the same brutal way that non-Christian nations have behaved since the beginning of time? How do we justify oppression, slavery, the theft of land, theft of labor, genocide, rape, and exploitation of every kind done unto non-European peoples?”

Kim, who noted his Korean heritage, said, “It’s clear that racism is a philosophical construct, one invented by Christian nations to absolve themselves of the atrocities of empire … and that self-deception continues to undergird American life.”

Kim said that many Europeans who settled in America, from Germans, to Irish, to Italians, were able to assimilate into society because at least they were “not black.” Koreans, he said, have been complicit “by stepping on the backs of black people to enter into white privilege.”

“As Asian people who have been offered the crumbs of white privilege in exchange for silence and invisibility, we’ve traded in our birthright of dignity for a bowl of pottage,” he said.

At the Church of All Nations, Kim said, “The culture of public confession, corporate repentance, joyful celebration, and vulnerable relationality that we have cultivated … is key to understanding the dynamism and hope evident in our life together.”

Kim closed by offering both confession and repentance. “I want to conclude by walking humbly with God and with you,” Kim said, and apologized to African Americans for complicity, to Native Americans for benefiting from stolen land and to white Americans for contributing to racial divisions. “I humbly ask all of you, please forgive me and my people by the grace of God.”