The Cabinet, along with the Committee on Religion and Race and the Board of Ordained Ministry, immersed ourselves in gaining a better understanding of the past, present and future of Race Relations this past week. We visited the Civil Rights Museum and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. At the Museum we saw old 1960s footage of Governors Lester Maddox of Georgia and George Wallace of Alabama cry out, "Segregation now, and segregation always!" At Ebenezar we were blessed to hear Dr. Martin Luther King's sermon, "Drum Major". This sermon spoke to my heart as if it were hearing this for the first time ever. The next day we dialogued about our experiences and our hopes for tomorrow.
As I reflect, I cannot for the life of me understand how we as a people allowed such hatred and such evil. My brother on the cabinet, Dr. Richard Winn, says, "Where was the Methodist Church?" How could anyone have allowed such racism to exist? I was ashamed, and I was angry by our past.
I am still thinking of the courage of Dr. King and others who stood, marched, prayed, preached, and lived in non-violence to bring about change. I was only eight years old when Dr. King was killed, but I knew the world would never be the same; I simply could not understand why anyone would hurt him. His message was freedom for all, love for all, acceptance for all, and equality for all. What was wrong with that? Through the next 48 years I saw my black sisters and brothers still being discriminated against. Things, at least in Florida and Georgia, were not equal for all, no, not by far.
I am so angry at times for those who planted seeds in me that said such inequity was acceptable. I am angry for those times when I have thought, "Oh, we are just different, so that allows for it." I get upset when I remember times that I thought of myself as better than my black brothers and sisters. I get angry with myself, because I know in my heart that while every human is different from the other we are all equal in God's eyes and heart. I know that if I am to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ, then I must embrace that all are equal and that all are of sacred and holy worth.
I struggle that racism is still here today, although often in very quiet and subtle ways. I struggle that we have added other groups to the hate we show and to the power over others that we seem to "must" have as individuals.
Dr. King had a dream. I want to be a part of making that dream a reality so please, please join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will pour down and drown out the hatred and racism we create or accept today. Join me in not sitting still or being quiet any longer. We must shout from every pulpit, from every agency, from every mountain, that God loves all God's creation with the same love and that all everywhere are our sisters and brothers. Not one of us is better than the other. We are in this together.
I apologize to all my black brothers and sisters for any harm my white privilege has caused or for any wrong I have done because of the seeds planted in my own life by others or myself. I want to serve you with love and grace. Pray that those seeds planted so long ago in a very sick era will shrivel and die once and for all. Help me do and say what is right and what is needed for you and for all who experience any prejudism, this includes all women, all Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Questioning, all Hispanics and Koreans. It also includes all Muslims and people of other nationalities and faith communities. May we live for peace, righteousness, and justice as God's beloved children.
God help us! Christ help us! God help us! Let the dream come to be, in each one of these United Methodist pastors in the Atlanta Emory District as we together, heart to heart and hand in hand, awake to a new day. May we preach as Jesus preached and may we love as Jesus loved. Amen