One of the most shocking and shameful parts of our history as a church, in my view, is our non-participation (at best) in and our resistance (at worst) to the American Civil Rights Movement, embodied in the person of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (When I say “our” I mean especially the majority of folk in the church fifty years ago who were white folk, the group that still represents a majority in our church today). Actually, it was embodied long before Dr. King in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we confessed then and do now to be Lord, and who is himself the in-fleshment of the holiness of God which we believe the Methodist movement in general and the Free Methodist Church in particular has been called to spread across these lands.
I will not belabor the point. I will not try to explain how this could happen and did happen. Some others have already done so, and others still could do so now better than I. I want simply to affirm that our opting out, our passive and active forms of resistance to the movement, reflected a betrayal of our Lord’s love-commands, a failure to live up to our best understanding of holiness, and a tragic “mutation” of our own FMC DNA. I am simply wanting to say, “We were wrong!” And, “We want now to be and do right!”
In order to be and do right, as our Scriptures show us, we must repent. That is, express heart-felt remorse over everything in our past we know to have been wrong. Then, further, to reject anything in our present (turning away from those past wrongs) which replicates or reflects those past sins. Then, in order for it to be right—for us, the FMC, to be right—we must seek to undo whatever damage has been done by that past, whether to persons, communities, or the social, legal, and governmental systems in which they are now embedded. Then, still further, in order to be right, I think, we must seek to listen and follow the lead of those persons of color among us or around us in finding ways to respond to the ongoing “wrongs” that persist, of which 2014 especially and painfully have reminded us. How to do all these things, and the many other things these may require, calls for wisdom from above. But there is no excuse for not seeking such wisdom. We have it on good authority that it is readily available.
Lord, have mercy upon us, forgive us, cleanse and correct us, and empower us to give credible witness, in word and deed, to you who are our peace. Amen.