ESA Statement in Response to Charlottesville


As Evangelicals for Social Actionthe organization that includes the ministries of the Racial Justice Institute, Oriented to Love, CreatureKind, New Copernican Conversations, the Institute for Family Vitality, and the Sider Center:

Because this is not a time for ambiguity, we reject the idol of white supremacy, of neo-nazism, and of a nationalism that places country before God. We affirm that every person is made in the image of God.

The racial terror in Charlottesville, and the white American church’s complicitness in the sin of racial hatred, cause us to reflect on our work as an organization. We confess that in the area of racial justice we have found ourselves rich in theological reflection, but lacking in consistent concrete action. Racism that goes unchecked and unchallenged, grows. Christianity that defends, excuses, or nurtures white supremacy, nationalism (country over God), and American exceptionalism (“America First”) is abhorrent to God and does not reflect the truth that all are made in the image of God. For it is all people as they exist within the particularities of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, immigration status, ethnicity, skin color, ability, and heritage that together showcase the fullness of God. We want to walk in the footsteps of the early church as described in the New Testament: a diverse church that included many people from many walks of life all tethered to a common commitment to Jesus. We are inspired by the picture in Revelation 7:9 of a community of people worshipping God, from every tribe, nation, people and language. And we long to see this on earth, as it is in Heaven.

We ask that you judge us by our actions, the fruit of a renewed resolve to fight racial hatred in all its forms. We invite you to join us in untangling our Christian heritage and theologies from hatred and oppression. Together, we will work toward building a beloved community and ushering in God’s dream of shalom into the world—a true embodiment of radical love made visible.

~ Nikki Toyama-Szeto (Executive Director), Darren Calhoun, Elrena Evans, Kristyn Komarnicki, Micky ScottBey Jones, John Seel, Katherine Tan, and Sarah Withrow King


As an organization and as individuals we are inspired by the type of theology and Christian practice described by public theologian and civil rights elder activist Ruby Sales: “a theology of resistance, a theology of reaffirmation…a theology of hope.” If you are hearing the call to work toward shalom, here are some organizations and resources that can help you get started:



“How Will the Church Reckon with Charlottesville”

“Church, We Have Work to Do”

Learn about the original call for clergy to show up in Charlottesville. Resources and ways to support continued efforts are included.

Blog posts by clergy and faith-rooted activists present in Charlottesville

Train. Learn. Show up.

Get training in nonviolence and direct action. Learn about justice issues. Explore faith-based and faith-rooted organizing. Find who is organizing in your area, and learn to organize your people!

Pico National Network

The Dart Center

Faith Rooted Organizing

This is WORR / #RighteousResistance

You may also want to read

Signs of Hope

By Mae Elise Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Troy Jackson, and Soong-Chan Rah

Pastor Jer Swigart leads the Open Door Community, a progressive young church, in Walnut Creek, California, outside San Francisco. The church community is defined by what it means to live like Jesus and share his love with the world.