Blog Post by
Rev. John Harrisson
Dismantling Racism and Privilege (DRAP) Team Moderator

When asked why God’s people in the United States are still so divided by race in churches, neighborhoods, schools and regions of the country, a lot of people tend to shrug their shoulders and say that’s just the way it is. We can be tempted to believe our history of racial violence and subjugation ended with the Civil Rights movement, and the separation we have today can therefore seem self-selecting, a matter of comfort level or choice. It is easy to forget that the separation we still experience was built by design and enforced by law (The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein, lays out this argument particularly well).

This information can feel depressing, but I believe learning more about how racial segregation was built by human hands is, at its root, an exercise in hope. If we still live, move and have our being in divided communities because of what has been built, that means the things that divide us can also be dismantled. Something else can be built in their place. That, in short, is the mission of the Dismantling Racism and Privilege Team. We join Jesus Christ in breaking down the dividing walls (Eph. 2:14) in our presbytery piece by piece, with the hope of building something new in its place.

We can be tempted to believe it is enough to dismantle racist laws. The problem is that while the laws may be gone, the walls they built still remain: in our families; in our churches; in the air we breathe and the media we consume. Our purpose in leading a journey to Montgomery, Alabama this October is to lay a new foundation as a Presbytery, and to see together what God is building.

It has been a breath of fresh air to see all the stakeholders who have pledged to join us on the road to reconciliation. Much more than a simple mission trip, we see this journey as a seed, a new beginning we can bring home with us to take root and grow. It is a seed of interracial community and spiritual formation, a seed of acknowledgement and healing and boldness to approach the throne of grace in our time of need. It is an investment in developing new leadership and stronger networks for a broader project of reconciliation and new growth in the years ahead.

We are closing in on our application deadline of August 1, and so we invite you with urgency and zeal to consider joining us on the bus in October and in the community,  we hope to sustain when we return home.

Details of the journey may be found here.

Rev. John Harrison




  • Posted July 23, 2019 4:26 pm
    Susan Andrews

    This is such a healthy and forward reaching initiative. I am proud to be part of GLPBY! I am so sorry I cannot make the trip – but look forward to what grows out of it.
    Thanks, John!

  • Posted July 24, 2019 11:05 am
    Diane McCullough

    As a member of the DRAP team, I want to publicly acknowledge and express personal gratitude for your leadership. It is inspired and inspiring, gracious and grace promoting. Let the building of this Beloved Community continue!!
    Thank you John!

  • Posted July 25, 2019 8:37 pm
    John Harrison

    For anyone who has a schedule conflict this October, please rest assured this is just the first part of a much larger process as our presbytery lives into the message entrusted to us: “the kingdom of God has come near.”

  • Posted July 29, 2019 1:45 pm
    Marilyn Gamm

    Thank you for this excellent reflection, John, and the resources you shared as well.

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