Covenant Presbyterian Church - Charlotte, NC

See. Grow. Act

Exploring Racial Injustice 

Make plans to participate in a summer series focused on better understanding and responding to racial and economic injustice. The program will kick off on in May with a civil rights and justice tour around Charlotte led by Greg Jarrell of QC Family Tree, followed by lunch and a discussion on the patio at Covenant. In June, we'll host a reading of the book In My Grandmother's House by Yolanda Pierce, and, in July, we'll visit the Brooklyn Collective.

Walking the City as Labyrinth
Saturday, May 15, 10:00 a.m. (Rain date: May 16 at 1:00 p.m.)

Join a Covenant group for a two-hour walking tour of Uptown to explore Charlotte’s history of racial and economic injustice and how we as Christians are called to respond as we look towards our city’s future. Afterwards, we’ll gather for lunch and a discussion led by tour developer Greg Jarrell of QC Family Tree.

Participants also have the option to walk, bike or drive the tour on your own using an audio guide on your smart phone before joining the May 15 lunch discussion. Be sure to grab a friend or family member to participate as the self-guided tour offers rich discussion questions.

Reserve your spot for the tour and lunch.

covenant's response to racial injustice

As our country and community begin to examine more deeply racial injustice and inequity, Covenant has an important opportunity to become more introspective in our own faith community.  To help in this undertaking, the Planning & Evaluation Board (“P&E”) has developed a Framework for Covenant’s Response:

The current national pause to acknowledge injustice in our society, specifically racial injustice, feels different from pauses in the past. Sparked by the murder of George Floyd and others, statues are coming down, buildings and schools are renamed, trademarks are abandoned and conversations about racism are deeper and more open.
 
It is unclear why this time is different but it probably is related to the belief, held by many, that our country is close to losing what it could become and if we don’t act now in a substantial and lasting way, it (and we) will be lost. There is also the vitriolic divide in the U.S. and the belief that the common citizens must take the lead on reducing this divide.

In such a setting as this, what is a Christian to do? What we are always called to do:  consider Jesus’ teaching of the two great commandments and implement them in our lives.
 
For Covenant, this Christian response (the “Response”) should include an examination of our community of faith, our systems and structure, and our history, so to identify racial injustice, racial inequity and racism or identify that within our faith community which supports the same. In doing this as a community of faith, we invite each member to do the same individually. Our Response should include the following:

  • Pray for God’s guidance.
  • Educate ourselves.
  • Say it out loud; i.e. acknowledge the continuing racism in our culture, systems and ourselves.
  • In our self-examination, keep our focus on racial injustice, racial inequity and racism. There are other areas where inequities exist, but for this Response we should not dilute our efforts.
  • Ask each Covenant Ministry and Personnel to identify three actions it can take to further our Response, insisting that each action be measurable. Then measure success or failure of the actions on a regular basis, at least annually.
  • Pray for openness to change and for humility. Work for the former.
  • Offer opportunities and guidance for healing, renewal and reconciliation.
  • Create a structural mechanism within Covenant to address yet-to-be discovered racial issues with respect to Covenant’s history, buildings and mission.
  • Communicate our Response to our membership on a regular basis.

Part of the Response entails examination of Covenant’s physical buildings and the art contained in them including, but not limited to, the History and Mission Windows, and the pulpit and chancel carvings. A task force of P&E should be appointed for this purpose. In looking at representations that involve individuals or acts supportive of racism, we should understand the purpose of their inclusion; determine if their continued presence supports racial injustice or celebrates racism or racist history; and if it is determined that they do, make a recommendation regarding their presence. In making this study, the task force should obtain outside views regarding the same from respected sources.

P&E is a logical committee to coordinate the Response for Covenant since all six ministries are represented on the Board and because it is charged to determine how Covenant is fulfilling its stated mission. Such coordination is, of course, done for and subject to Session’s approval.

Fostering conversations in our own homes

The Around the Kitchen Table resources are intended to foster conversations in our own homes about racism. We encourage you to identify one time each week to spend with those who sit at your kitchen table – maybe your children, your parents, your neighbors, your spouse, or yourself. The resources can shape your conversations around our shared hope and faith.

what we believe

A message from Senior Minister Bob Henderson

Two events in our country – George Floyd’s murder and our nation’s leader tear gassing his people to make way for a photo opportunity (all while holding a Bible in front of a Christian sanctuary) – are scandalous at best.

I understand and appreciate that our congregation represents a broad political spectrum, and we’re better for it. I also understand that regardless of our particular political persuasion, Christian faith stands on a solid bedrock of justice, love, and peace. We believe in hard-won reconciliation, not division.

We relentlessly affirm that each person -- every ethnicity, race, gender, and nationality -- is made in the image of God and is of equal value in God's eyes. Thus everyone should be treated as God’s very own. These values are under siege in our country, and as Christian people, it is for us to ‘stand our ground’ and work toward a world more reflective of God’s ideals for the human community.

Years ago, the Session at Covenant adopted a clear mission statement which will guide us in these tumultuous times: Covenant Presbyterian is a dynamic Christian community that gladly invites all people into a transformational experience of faith; boldly proclaims the gospel; bravely works toward a whole and just world; and passionately nurtures discipleship.

You can expect Covenant Presbyterian Church to embrace this mission statement vigorously in the coming months. We’ll boldly proclaim the gospel and its perspective on hard issues. We’ll bravely work toward a whole and just world by working on systemic and episodic realities that are far from just. And we’ll passionately nurture faithful discipleship that fosters growth in all of us around important issues such as race, inequality, and justice.

Let me assure you that it’s a serious commitment on the part of this congregation’s leadership. A number of years ago, we diversified our financial deposits to include minority owned banks. I’m asking the finance committee to make every effort to diversify even further. We integrated implicit bias training into our personnel searches and interviews. We’ve shifted nearly all our mission endeavors from doing for others to being with others and we’ve invested heavily in friendships and studies and collaborations with African American congregations. In those changes, we’ve been changed and will continue to change.

I’m sure in doing more that we’ll risk disagreement and error. I’m also sure that God can gather us all up in love and transform us into something more Christ-like as we seek to be agents of God’s redeeming love to a world very much in need.

Ways to get involved

Launching points for our comprehensive response. Updated on an ongoing basis.

Around the Kitchen Table

Confronting racism in our homes, hearts
An opportunity to confront racism in our own homes and hearts through conversation, prayer, listening and reflection. Sign up to receive the resource.

Books, podcasts, videos, news articles

Resources for white people, parents
Please view this resource for white people and parents. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, this is an invitation to start. 

Yard signs state our church's commitment

Bravely works toward a whole and just world
Covenant yard signs stating our church's commitment to a whole and just world are now available . Details here.

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge

Creating effective social justice habits 

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. The good news is, there’s an abundance of resources just waiting to empower you. This plan includes suggestions for readings, podcasts, videos and observations.
Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. is the leader of America & MOORE, LLC, providing comprehensive diversity, privilege and leadership trainings and workshops.
For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity. Click here to begin.

initiatives already underway

Projects supported by For a Whole Community campaign

Responding to Affordable Housing Crisis

The first residents have moved into Mezzanine on Freedom, an affordable housing community supported by a $2 million investment from our congregation. A Covenant leadership team is developing a blueprint to guide ongoing outreach for many years into the future.

Julia Watkins, one of our pastoral residents, will move into an apartment on June 10 and hopes to play a role in organizing community dinners and perhaps a neighborhood vegetable garden. 

diverse classrooms boost learning for all students

Now in its third year, the Child Development Center is founded on the belief that racially diverse classrooms boost learning and lead to improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The church recently met a major milestone by fully funding the $2 million scholarship endowment. This means our program will be able to support, in perpetuity, families of diverse economic backgrounds. Depending on need, a family can get 10 to 40 percent of the costs covered by an endowed scholarship.