Friday, January 20, 2006

Jesse and Sarah?

Jesse and blurred Sarah
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

King Fling I

Jeff St's own Michael Westmoreland-White reports on this year's King Fling:

This was the third time I have been part of a regional gathering of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, as opposed to our annual national summer gatherings ("peace camp"). Several years ago, when we were trying to strengthen the regional networks in the BPFNA, First Baptist Church of Granville, OH hosted a weekend gathering for BPFNA folk from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. It was exciting and I remember learning things from our 2 ecumenical guests (a Quaker minister from the pastoral tradition of Friends and a Catholic priest whose job was to report on all things Baptist for the Vatican!) that stick with me to this day. But the event seemed to be a singular occurrence. Nor did I notice other regions copy it.

Then, last January, FBC Granville again hosted a regional gathering. This was the first "King Fling"--a regional BPFNA gathering centered around the MLK,Jr. national holiday and attempting to celebrate Dr. King's legacy in a more responsible way than the wider culture does. Most of those gathered were from Ohio, but several of us from KY showed up. We focused on Dr. King's "World House" vision as recounted in the last chapter of Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (Incidentally, this is THE book of Dr. King's that I would require of every U.S. citizen, and every serious Christian peacemaker. THIS is the challenge from King's final year of life that we are so very far from facing. This is the radical King, so far from the tamed and watered down King of national memory/amnesia, that we desperately need to hear in our day. THIS was the vision that led to his assassination, I am convinced.)

This year the King Fling was held in Louisville, KY. It was hosted by Crescent Hill Baptist Church and co-sponsored by CHBC, Highland Baptist Church, and Jeff Street Baptist Community at Liberty (my own church)... Many strong BPFNA members and supporters have been associated with CHBC, including Glen Stassen, Darrell Adams, the late Henlee Barnette, and the late, much-missed Sam Adams. This weekend's hosting of the King Fling could start CHBC on the road to greater involvement in BPFNA. There was strong interest among the Social Justice ministry and pastor Greg Pope in CHBC's becoming a partner-congregation.

The other co-sponsoring churches also have long BPFNA connections. Jeff Street is the only current partner congregation in KY and Highland has many individual members and gives much support. But we had attendees from other Louisville churches (I noted some from Broadway BC and from Deer Park BC) and from churches in Ohio (FBC Granville, Peace Community Church in Oberlin, FBC Dayton, University BC in Columbus), Indiana (Tom and Mary Jane Coursen from Indiana First Church of the Brethren), and Tennessee (Paul and Nancy DeKar from Prescott Memorial BC in Memphis).


keep reading...

Paul and Kate at the King Fling

Paul and Kate
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

King Fling II

The music was wonderful. Led by Darrell Adams and "Down to Earth" (the spousal team of Paul Whitely, Jr. and Kate Sanders who lead music at Jeff Street), there was a Saturday night concert, and --on Friday night--both performances and congregational singing. Other performers included the Burkett Family (FBC Granville), Roger Thomas (youth minister at Jeff Street) and maybe some others I've forgotten. Tom Burkett spoke for me when he said to those who say, "All the good 'movement music' was in the '60s," that there is just as much good movement music today--you just have to be where it is played and sung. We were at the King Fling. (It probably is true that commercial radio stations were far more willing to play such music in the '60s than during our time when Clear Channell organizes mass CD burnings of Dixie Chics music for one anti-Bush comment at a London concert!)

I also enjoyed the testimonies of several people who gave their "take" on Dr. King's legacy. Some of these people, older than I am (I was 6 when King was assassinated), talked about living through Civil Rights movement years. Others reflected on inheriting that legacy and what it means to carry it onward. I was most in agreement with the comments made by my pastor, Rev. Cindy Weber, who focused not on King the Dreamer, but King the organizer of movements for social justice. (Cindy didn't say this, but I remembered Gandhi's comment that the greatest weapon of nonviolence was also the hardest to implement--organizing!) Cindy, like King, never forgets that no social progress, no justice or peacemaking, comes without the organization of people power. (The chapter in Where Do We Go From Here? in which King lays out his areas of disagreement and areas of agreement with Black Power movements is very instructive. King deplored both love without power and power without love.)

There were great workshops, too. I'll let others tell more about them, but I will say that I learned a great deal from Paul and Nancy DeKar's description of a Baptist monastic community in Australia and from Dina Carroll's workshop on contemplative disciplines. Outward peacemaking must be balanced by disciplines for spiritual peace. I place the contemplation/action balance differently than I heard either the DeKars or Dina advocate, but I recognize well the need for a spirituality of peace to ground actions for justice and peace.

The weekend ended with letter-writing actions over breakfast Sunday a.m. at Jeff Street followed by a great sermon by Gary Percesepe at Crescent Hill. Gary's prophetic word was very challenging.

I hope other regions will host weekend mini-conferences like this one. They can be connected with the King holiday or with other appropriate dates on either national or church calendars. (A significant date that comes to mind is June 15th, the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is celebrated in U.S. Black Church circles as "Juneteenth." It would be a great time to promote better working partnerships between Anglo-majority and Black-majority churches! Is there a day when Canada celebrates First Nations? Cesar Chavez' birthday would be a good time to focus on both migrant labor and the struggle for justice of Latinos. Others will come to mind.)

I hope we host next year's King Fling in either Tennessee or Indiana. I look forward to it almost as much as to the summer peace camp!


Report from Michael Westmoreland White

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Darrell Adams at the King Fling!

Darrell Adams at the King Fling!
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Let’s celebrate King’s birthday by listening and heeding the words of this great man:

Don't let anybody make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with justice and it seems I can hear God saying to America "you are too arrogant, and if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nations shall not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore." I don't know about you, I ain't going to study war anymore.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

From Strength to Love, 1963

You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong…with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.

Speech to his staff, 1966

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.


Keep the dream alive, y’all (and remember that other saying, A dream without a plan is just a wish).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Years, 2006!!

New Years 2006
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Til Wars on Earth Shall End

A determined hope for a new year:

‘Til Wars on Earth Shall End

by Ken Medema

Let truth and mercy find here a joyful meeting place

And here let peace and justice be joined in warm embrace

And in this congregation let strangers now be friends

To do the gospel's bidding til wars on earth shall end

Let truth's bright flame be blazing in all the darkest hours

Confronting schemes of darkness exposing evil's powers

Let mercy's gentle manner so willing to forgive

Fill warring hearts with longing til in truth's light we live

So now let peace and justice be never far apart

But flowing like a river for every thirsty heart

These two shall be united a mighty moving stream

Upon whose banks we gather to work and pray and dream