Dismantling Racism in Action
The Old Presbyterian Meeting House upholds all people as children of God. We are called to dismantle systems that perpetuate poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination. We seek to build a just and beloved community. The OPMH Dismantling Racism Team (DRT), part of the church’s Service and Justice Ministry, was created on July 1, 2020, in response to the racial unrest triggered by the police killings of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020, and George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Our mission is to help inform and advance the work of racial harmony and social justice in Alexandria and beyond. The Team promotes opportunities for education and awareness, and encourages OPMH members to get involved in efforts to call out and reverse systemic discrimination and injustice in our community. Since its founding, our group has been guided by three main principles: education, partnership, and advocacy
We thank everyone who has been actively involved in ongoing discussions and actions to dismantle systemic racism as a congregation. For the most up-to-date information within our OPMH Community, please join us on Realm, the church communication tool, where you can receive regular updates through the Member Bulletin Board group and Dismantling Racism group.
How You Can Help
- Attend a DRT meeting! They are usually held monthly on Sundays at 7:00 PM on Zoom. Please contact Billy Vazquez, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. All are welcome!
- Join the Dismantling Racism Team group page on Realm.
- Educate yourself through engaging with some of the resources listed on this page, some of the recordings from our previous events, and seeking out other resources on anti-racist learning.
- Volunteer your time and talents to helping others in our community, like through the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium, Friends of Guest House, with the Four Mile Run Conservation League, and others.
Events & Actions
April 11, 2023 – May 11, 2023 – Paperback Book Drive
In conjunction with the Prince William Public Defender’s Office the Meeting House is collecting paper back books for the prison system. We are collecting books you have as well as from an Amazon wish list.
Books in Spanish
Vocational and trade books
Motivational and personal growth
Resume and job interviewing
Addiction and recovery
More info can be found on Facebook.
October 2, 2022 -Unveiling and Dedication of Enslaved People Plaque (Litany for Repentance.)
Acknowledging the True Legacy of Our Historic Buildings Historic markers and plaques alert us that something important happened in this place, and we should know and understand this history. The Old Presbyterian Meeting House has two brass plaques on the exterior of our sanctuary. One attests that our church is on the National Register of Historic Places and invites people to learn about our long history in this community. The second and newest plaque acknowledges the enslaved people who helped construct these historic buildings and contributed to this legacy. We have not been able to learn their names and yet we owe them our gratitude for their skills, and we repent for unjustly using their labor.
Their work can be seen in three buildings: our church sanctuary, constructed in 1837, Flounder House initially built as a parsonage in 1787 and now used as meeting space, and the Elliot House, built in the 1840s as a private residence and converted now to offices and meeting space.
As a church established before the Revolutionary War, the Old Presbyterian Meeting House was swept into this country’s long struggles over slavery, emancipation, and civil rights. Our church had leaders and members who owned slaves and owe their wealth to their labors; we also had members who spoke out against slavery and advocated for education and just treatment for people of African descent. Our earliest members were the planters, merchants and trades people of Alexandria. The church member rolls included enslaved and free Black people, although today we know too little about their lives and how they were treated. Ours is a church of this community, and the events and attitudes that shaped Alexandria’s history likely can all be found in our history. As an institution of humans, we experienced American history and culture at its best and worst.
Our Presbyterian faith now declares that God is at work here and now when people deal fairly with each other and labor to change customs and structures that enslave and oppress human beings. In the October 2, 2022 service to dedicate the enslaved people plaque, we spoke a litany repenting for our complicity in white supremacy and our failure to take responsibility for the legacy of slavery, lynchings, and segregation. We further pledged to work toward healing and reconciliation. Guided by our Dismantling Racism Team, this church is seeking to learn about racism and work with others in our community for justice and equality.