The deepening crises in race relations all across the land confront the Christian church with its sharpest challenges to integrity and discipleship in this century. A revolution in relations between the races is upon us. We can neither stop it nor delay it. We can only hope to help guide it by active participation in it as concerned and courageous Christians.
The time is now to understand that racial reconciliation is built only on the foundation of racial justice, that justice delayed is justice denied.
The time is now to heal every broken race relationship and every segregated institution in our society--every church, every public accommodation, every place of employment, every neighborhood, and every school. Our goal must be nothing less than an integrated church in an integrated community.
The time is now to practice as well as to preach Christian nonviolence. In this revolution let us not only support and uphold the courageous Negro and white leaders of nonviolence, but let us take our share of initiative, leadership, and risk in helping guide the revolution over the precipitous trail of nonviolence.
The time is now to recognize Negro disappointment and even outright rejection of white Christians, their churches, and their faith. Few white Christians have suffered with their oppressed Negro brothers in efforts to obtain racial justice.
The time is now for us to confess to God our sins of delay, omission, and obstruction for racial justice within and outside the church. Our witness has been weak, despite the courageous witness of a few of our number. Our witness has not matched our basic belief that every child of God is a brother to every other.
The time is now for action, “even costly action that may jeopardize the organizational goals and institutional structures of the church, and may disrupt any fellowship that is less than fully obedient to the Lord of the church. In such a time the church of Jesus Christ is called upon to put aside every lesser engagement.”
The call of Christ is for commitment and courage in such a time as this. This call comes to every one of us, every congregation among us, and every community in which we live. We can dodge neither the revolution nor the call of Christ. Let us respond in works as eloquent as our words, in practices as profound as our prayers, in action as heroic as our gospel.
Trusting in the Lord of the church for his continuing truth and power which strengthen us for every good work, we propose the following first steps to implement this declaration of concern:
The time is now for every member of the church to be used of God to heal the brokenness in all peoples and races whom God hath made of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth.
Adopted at the 1963 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference meeting in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.