July 28, 2021
To the people and congregations of The Presbyterian Church in Canada,
The 2021 General Assembly appointed a special committee to listen to concerns identified by two petitions issued from the Presbyteries of Eastern Han-Ca and Western Han-Ca. The petitions state, “We have experienced treatment at the hands of many in The Presbyterian Church in Canada which has caused us much pain and raises alarm, for we have collectively experienced many instances of slander, ridicule, racism.” The petitions challenge The Presbyterian Church in Canada to reflect on the ways “the dominant culture of the denomination” might again be “following in the hegemonic sins of their ancestors.” The authors of the petitions believe that they, as Koreans, are not alone in these experiences and ask for the General Assembly to confess the mistreatment of “the large ethnic contingent of our denomination” done “by the dominant culture of our denomination.”
In response to these serious words, the Assembly named a nine-member special committee. The members are: the Rev. Sampson Afoakwah, the Rev. Peter Bush, the Rev. Mary Fontaine, the Rev. Joon Ki Kim, the Rev. Stephen Kwon, the Rev. Sean Seungho Lee, the Rev. Linda Park, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Scott and the Rev. Frank Szatmari. At its first meeting, the committee named the Rev. Linda Park and the Rev. Peter Bush as co-conveners.
The purpose of this letter is to do three things:
- To let the church at large know that we exist and have begun our work. We will be reporting to the 2022 General Assembly.
- To invite stories about how members of the ethnic contingent of The Presbyterian Church in Canada have been treated by members of the dominant culture of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. We wish to hear from people in “ethnic” congregations. We also wish to hear from people of non-Euro-Canadian descent who are part of congregations whose members are largely from the dominant culture. As well, we would like to hear from clergy of non-Euro-Canadian descent who cross-culturally serve congregations whose members are drawn from the dominant culture.
- We have an e-mail address to which people can submit their stories in writing: special [dot] committee [dot] pcc [at] gmail [dot] com
- We also hope that congregations and groups across the church will invite us to come and hear their stories. It is our hope that we will be able to hear these stories in person. However, with COVID-19 restrictions, we may need to use online conferencing technology (or a similar technology).
- We anticipate developing ways in which we can gather stories from individuals.
- Please contact us through e-mail to invite us to visit your congregation or group to hear your stories. Please contact us if you have personal stories that you would like to tell us verbally. We will do our best to listen to as many people as possible. We plead for patience and understanding as we set up our processes. As the timelines are very tight to make the deadline of reporting to the 2022 General Assembly, the earlier the invitation is sent to us, the more likely it is that we will be able to accept it.
We need your prayers. Please pray for the members of the special committee: for resilience and stamina, for sensitivity and discernment. Pray for those telling their stories: for the courage to tell their stories and the comfort of the Holy Spirit even as the stories may be hard to tell. And pray for the church as a whole: that this process will lead to understanding, hope and a renewed commitment to the vision of the church as described in Revelation 7:9: “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.”
We thank the church for the trust it has placed in us. If there are questions or comments, please use our e-mail address to contact us.
On behalf of the Special Committee,