The moderator at the 2022 General Assembly asked the people who made the statements to Eastern students and staff to come forward a second time on Monday morning. By Tuesday, one commissioner had come forward and personally apologized for making statements about “slave labor,” which he said was meant as a joke. Another apologized for the conflict with the staff worker. No one had claimed responsibility for saying a racial slur.
The General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) apologized Friday [6/10/22] for four racist incidents at its annual gathering.
In a statement of “sorrow and regret” passed without dissent, the General Assembly said “there is no place in the church for such conduct” and “we repudiate and condemn all sins of racism, hatred, and prejudice, as transgressions against our Holy God, who calls us to love and honor all people.”
The 126 commissioners from the Reformed denomination’s 296 congregations gathered in Philadelphia at Eastern University on Wednesday. The annual meetings do not normally involve much controversy and could even be considered boring when compared to the dramatic conflicts within the Presbyterian Church in America or Southern Baptist Convention.
The OPC commissioners came prepared to hear two amendments to the Book of Discipline, receive reports on giving and Sunday school attendance, and vote on a resolution of thanks to Richard B. Gaffin Jr., a Westminster Theological Seminary professor who is retiring from the Committee on Foreign Missions after 52 years.
On Thursday afternoon, the proceedings were interrupted by a report from moderator David Nakhla, who said the General Assembly was in danger of getting kicked off the Eastern University campus for violating its contract and not respecting the Christian school’s policy on racism. One person attending the General Assembly had made multiple comments about “slave labor” to students of color who were working at the school, another had gotten into an argument with a staff member, and a third had used a racial epithet.
Peter Bringe, an OPC minister and General Assembly commissioner, told CT it was painful to hear.
“The initial announcement of the moderator left the assembly in shocked silence,” he said in an email, “and we used that time until dinner to let the situation sink in and pray.”