Thursday, January 19, 2006

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


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