“[The one] who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as [the one] who helps to perpetrate it. [The one] who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stride Toward Freedom
In this season of unrest and turmoil, we gather today to remember the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As American Baptists we like to claim him as our brother, but far too often we have fallen short of the scope of his dream. In our clamor to show how we are different from other Baptists we neglect to recognize our own complicity in the systems and struggles happening right now in our nation. We, the Anti-Racism Task Force, say the time is now for us to claim the mantle left for us on the mountain top by Dr. King. It is time we confront the inherent white supremacy and privilege that have for too long been the foundation upon which our denomination is built even as we claim to be the most diverse denomination in the United States. Over the next months and longer you will hear from us regularly as we begin to help our beloved denomination become a true embodiment of Dr. King’s Dream.
Let us pray:
You who with a breath fills us with your Spirit, we thank you for the prophetic life and witness of Dr. King who reminds us that “history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Silence is betrayal and we confess that we have allowed fear to silence us for too long. We have allowed fear to let us wait for a “more convenient season” and not name the sins of our nation, our denomination, and especially our own faith tradition. We have been silent as white supremacy and power; Christian nationalism and jingoistic idolatry have been given the place of honor at the table.
We know that “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle,” and so we, in our confession, ask also for the strength and the courage to straighten our backs as we work for justice. Give us the boldness to take the risks necessary to become the people you are calling us to be; to be the churches you are calling us to be; and to be the denomination you are calling us to be. Give us the drum major instinct.
This we pray in the name of the crucified, risen, and ascended Christ.
Rev. Dr. Natalie C. Wimberly, co-chair
Rev. Justin Thornburgh, co-chair
Rev. Dr. Eugene Downing
Rev. Joan C. Friesen
Ms. Sandra Lee
Rev. Dr. Dan Brockway
Ms. Stephanie Commandest
Rev. Abner Cotto-Bonilla
Rev. Rodney Lynch
Rev. Dr. Don Ng
Mr. Ethan Medley