Speaking Against Racism From Our Pulpits

The Sarasota Ministerial Association  is celebrating February, Black History Month, as a time for “Speaking Against Racism from Our Pulpits.” We will be posting their sermons as they occur.

The Sarasota Ministerial Association was formed in 2001 to “Build Pathways Among Faith-Based Organizations and The Sarasota Community.” Monthly luncheons at member facilities offer opportunities for clergy fellowship and dialogue with community organizations. Four annual celebrations of the Ministerial Association include Good Friday Stations of The Cross Down Main Street, September 911 Commemorations; Thanksgiving Wednesday Theater Benefit for the Homeless, and the December Homeless Memorial Service. For more information visit: www.SarasotaMinisterialAssociation.org.

The Ministerial Association’s Chair, The Reverend Dr. Tom Pfaff shared, “our partnering with Florida Studio Theater’s Thurgood Forums Project is the best example of our Association’s mission to ‘Build Pathways with the Sarasota Community.’ Thank you Florida Studio Theater for reaching out to us that we may better reach out to our neighbors with the love of God.”

Demetrius Smart

Part of the Lay Leadership of Bethel CME Church
(941) 951-6120
1719 22nd St
Sarasota, FL 34234

Clear Lenses
Philippians 2;1-5
Peace & Unity Service

Peace and Unity can only come from proper leadership. In order to exist and unity to be established, leadership first had to be recognized.

As Christians, we understand that our leafership comes from God in Christ and the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives rather starting from us.

It does not matter how different we may be or how different we may do certain things. For if we are of the same mind, the mind of God; then we have established a collective consciousness, a consciousness which will be outlined in peace and illustrated by the love of Christ; which is the gift of God.

Peace and Unity are the two words which build the idea and concept of forming a collective consciousness of Peaceful unity.

 

Rabbi Jonathan Katz

Member Board of Directors Sarasota Ministerial Association
Temple Beth Israel
(941) 383-3428
567 Bay Isles Rd
Longboat Key, FL 34228

THE NEED TO BE MALADJUSTED

As a child, whenever I saw or heard Martin Luther King Jr. I thought about how “together” he seemed.  Our nation’s preeminent civil rights champion was so confident of his convictions, so eloquent, so true to himself.
What made for Dr. King’s compelling persona?  What enabled him to stir the hearts and minds of so many?  What engendered the remarkable unfolding of his powers as a leader?  King himself provided the answer.
“Modern psychology has a word,“ he said, “that is probably used more than any other word.  It is the word maladjusted.”  Though maladjustment usually presumes a negative connotation King, on the contrary, identified it with sacredness.
Dr. King appreciated that we should all try to live well-adjusted lives.  However, there were certain things to which he was proud to be maladjusted.  “I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination,“ he preached.  “I never intend to adjust myself to mob rule.  I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism.  I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things.”
His inspired maladjustment, his impassioned rejection of an unjust status quo, captured my imagination and soul.  King found models of maladjustment in the ennobled protest of the Hebrew prophets.  “I call on you to be as maladjusted as Amos,” King insisted, “who in the midst of the injustices of his day cried out in words that echo across the generation, ‘Let justice run down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Conscience-driven iconoclasts like Amos and Jeremiah spoke deeply to King.  In fact, when one examines our history from Biblical times to the present, holy maladjustment appears to be very much at the center of what it means to be a Jew.
Of course, maladjustment isn’t always manifested in positive ways.  Some wield it as an axe to be perpetually grinded as an end unto itself.  Others use it to excuse inappropriate behavior.  Maladjustment can give license to an anger that serves to darken rather than constructively alter the horizon.
This is what made Dr. King so exceptional.  He transformed maladjustment into purposeful dissent and, ultimately, love.  His dream that we be “so maladjusted that we will be able to go out and change our world and civilization” speaks to us today.  In a world still fraught with injustice and hate, we must continue that much more to cherish and learn from King’s profound legacy.

Rev. Mike Young

Unitarian Univeralist Congregation of Venice
(941) 485-2105
1971 Pinebrook Road
Venice, FL 34292
No One Would Put Up With It!
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration of all the barriers that need to fall.

Click here to listen to the sermon.

 

The Rev. Canon Jesse F. Anderson, jr.

St. Wilfred Episcopal Church
Sarasota, FL
Absalom Jones 2014

We are taking time out this morning from following the regular service lectionary, to lift up one from the alternate lectionary of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, as has become customary in this congregation, Absalom Jones, the first priest of African descent in this Episcopal Church; and the founding priest, of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, PA., which remains a cardinal parish in the Diocese of PA; where I proudly served as its 16th Rector. Jones historical bio is offered on the back of the service bulletin…
Our sermon hymn cites Absalom Jones as a Pioneer, Prophet and Priest; it is in his role of Prophet that I speak with you this morning; on a subject which Fr. James Kelly asked me to address in my first sermon here at St. Wilfred, the state of race relations in this Episcopal Church and the nation. The role of prophet is not one sought, nor necessarily enjoyed by the prophet or the hearer. Note the words just sung: “Anoint the prophets! Teach them thine intent: to human need their quickened hearts awake; fill them with power, their lips make eloquent for righteousness that shall all evil break.” It is not the prophet’s word but that of the Lord God Almighty, generally with judgment that change and reconciliation might occur.
Were Absalom to have preached this morning he might well have started with the words of our second lesson, Galatians 5:1 “For freedom XT has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” To which I would offer you his own words from a sermon directed to the Continental Congress, on their failure to accept and enforce a ban on the slave trade in 1805; “If you love your children, if you love your country, if you love the God of love, clear your hands from slaves, burden not your children or country of them.” Today Absalom would simply exchange the word “slave” for the elephant that is present in all of America – Racism. Racism which we were called to address as the Episc. Church through a nationally televised symposium a couple of months ago, shown in this sanctuary to a small number of parishioners and guests.
Of slavery itself, the thought is often presented , while a sin, it is over and done with in America; however racism, its ever present product, is distressingly alive and well, and I believe will be a determinant of the U.S. legacy in world history. A quick historical perspective; Racism grew out of the rationalizations that allowed slavery to continue after the Revolutionary War despite legislation banning the importation of slaves after 1805. The latter exposed a New England Episcopal presence in the film “Traces of the Trade,” to be shown here next week, encourage u to view.
The rationalizations ignored the words of 2 founding fathers: Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who said “Slavery would prove a cumbersome commodity,” and should be eliminated; neither however following their own advice. After fighting a war based on “Taxation without representation,” the C.C. proceeded to enact legislation that denied the same equality to persons of African descent and Native Americans by stating they were “not human beings,” and passed the 3/5ths Voting Law. These established the basis of inferiority and racism. How then later do you undo a sense of superiority/inferiority, and the psycho-sexual hang ups, that remain prevalent for many in this nation today???
I would offer that not only did this ignore the tenants of the Founding Fathers, but even more importantly the tenants and commandments of Father God in whom they said they trusted. To this end Absalom would offer them the words of our Gospel this morning: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” JN 15:12 How was it that they could offer the words of St. Paul in Ephesians and Colossians on slaves being obedient to their masters, but ignored Galatians 3:27/28 “As many of you were baptized into XT have put on XT. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in XT Jesus.” Of course when slaves began to hear, understand and ask questions in this regard, the masters then banned baptism. So too did they ignore the laws regarding slaves in Deuteronomy :15:12-18; 23:15-16; about manumission after 6 years of service, not returning escaped slaves, and freedom to an injured slave.
Might not Abs. offer the words of Isaiah about God from our OT lesson, familiar to the men of our Tues. evening Bible Study: Isaiah 11:3b-5 “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;… Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.“
These rationalizations motivated the abuses of the Civil War Reconstruction era, giving rise to the Klan, de jure and de facto segregation, lynching’s, separate and unequal facilities, abusive tenant farming , and the Racism that led to the Civil Rights Movement. This movement began to address and eliminate some of these inequities through legislation which began leveling the playing field, where “righteousness and justice” might abide. There was some hope that Isaiah’s words, read only two weeks ago here, might be coming to life: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; and those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” 9:5. This light shined brighter and with hope in November, 2007, with the election of that man with the strange sounding name, Barack Hussein Obama as President.
However, like the end of the Civil War, a war to continue the union of this nation, the divisive forces of racism reared its ugly head even more, looking much like Medusa, with her varying snakes, and about which we were warned in Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature.” On the days of election and his inauguration the gauntlet was thrown down with the declaration, “one term only,” and no legacy. A determination not based on political party, but race, because he was a Negra, Nigger, Colored, Negro, Black, African American. To do this, the welfare of the country be damned, and the office of President be denigrated. These attacks were, and are racially motivated. Church, politics, fraternal/sororal, friends, business etc. are choices one makes, Race is not, this is God’s choice.
In this past year 2013 the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in most of the nation, and 50 years of The March on Washington for jobs and equality. In this same period we have seen: the continued undoing of Affirmative Action, despite the economic evidence of continued disparities in education, employment, and wages. The diminution of the voting Rights Act, with immediate Reconstruction like actions being taken by states to prevent minority voting. Failure of Immigration legislation affording rights that were offered to most of todays gathered body, other than those brought here in chains and those natives who were already here. “Stand your ground,” legislation that makes minorities’ fair game. Health Care, without being concerned about who would benefit; some saying the decision may happen, but not on his watch. Church didn’t I hear somewhere in Scripture of complaints about healing on the Sabbath.
Absalom again would offer: “Love one another,” while stating that Racism is alive and well, which prevents us from offering equality. Where do you stand??? What might the Lord say through the prophets about the Episcopal Church and this nation??? Where are you???
While our national symposium, the film, and our national scene show there to be a lot of, “sounding brass,” and reasons for God to say, through the prophet Amos: “I despise your feasts and take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” God has not abandoned us, as again my men can tell you studying Isaiah, He did not abandoned the children of Israel in the midst of crisis. He is there for us, if we but stretch out our arms and hands, as His Son did for us, and “Love one another.”
The closing scene of the film “Mandela” has him walking off with some of his grandchildren stating: “hatred is learned behavior, love to can be learned.”
Church there is no gap in love; love will help you dent and overcome problems. A major need for individuals and the nation in terms of racism is that which Jesus offers, forgiveness and reconciliation: admit ones wrong, ask forgiveness, do penance, be partners in correcting the wrong, no one is perfect. Love is the most durable thing in life. So I say to you, do what you say you are here for this morning, to Love God and your neighbor. Surrender to the love of God, remember and accept as Fr. Roy proclaimed last Sunday: “Jesus is Lord!” Speak out when you hear a racist comment or joke, call and act out when the system is wrong, act out in a loving way, pray so hard that your hands and knees tremble. Let go and let God; “Love one another.”

Absalom Jones Part II 2015

Absalom Jones 2015

Pastor Rod Myers

Central Church of Christ
941-924-0095
6221 Proctor Road, Sarasota, 34241

Sermon 21614
Title: Civil Rights in God’s Plan

Introduction:
Many movements throughout history have suffered because there is a disconnect between those driving the movement and those observing or even opposing the movement. The visionary who sees injustice wants correct it for the good of a society may truly be motivated by the highest of ideals, but when those affected by his actions do not see it, opposition results. I believe this is what happened in the civil rights movement that evolved after the Emancipation Proclamation. How could Bible-believing and God-fearing people oppose treating all men with dignity and respect, and resisting providing access to opportunity to an entire race of people, in the name of Jesus? I prefer to believe it was ignorance and not pure evil.

I am the Son of the South, born in 1953, in rural southern Georgia. I have many personal experiences with racism. One experience demonstrates how much I was affected myself. The year had to be about 1969 or 1970. There was a two mile stretch of dirt road between my home and the community called Dasher where the paved road began. In the middle of this section of road was what we called “the big curve.” One day as I was returning home, and driving too fast for conditions, I came to “the big curve” prepared to slide through it as was the custom. As I did, I was met with another oncoming vehicle and I touched by brakes and attempted to move over. When I did my brakes locked and I headed for the trees on the side of the road. In those couple of seconds I prayed that I would not hit a pine tree head on. Fortunately I did not, and was relieved as I got out of the car to decide how I was going to get it out of the woods. The oncoming car was now stopped, and I hoped there would be someone who could help me. When the doors of the car opened, out stepped four, rather large, African American teenagers. What was my first thought? I just knew they were going to be angry at me nearly killing them, upset to see I was a white boy, and that these four young men were going to take their collective racial anger out on me. I assume they were enemies simply because they were black. But, to my surprise, they were very helpful pushing my car out of the woods and back onto the road. After my “thank yous” and my further relief that I had avoided death again, it dawned on me how much racism had affected me. Why would my first thoughts be negative?

As I grew up and after many more experiences God taught me to hate racism in all its forms, and to devote myself to living as color-blind as possible and to raise my children to be the same. This has led to my ministering in multi-racial congregations and doing mission work for about 30 years in Haiti among a people I love and respect. So what is it that I know and believe that causes me to want to see people without prejudice and those who are steeped in their racial bias?

Origins:

The rationale for racial prejudice cannot be maintained when we consider one simple fact as recorded in the song, “The Gospel Is For All” written by J. M. McCaleb, i.e. “Of one the Lord has made the race, thru one has come the fall; where sin has gone must go His grace; the gospel is for all.”

Gen.1: 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Gen.3: 20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

This is too simple to belabor, but many have missed this fundamental fact of human origins, i.e. that we all have one mother and one father, Adam and Eve. I cannot personally prove what color they were, but since black is the presence of all colors, and white it the absence, I would think they were black since all skin colors came from this original couple. I am not sure this is good genetic thinking, but it makes excellent common sense.

Gospel:

J.M. McCaleb was one of the first missionaries sent how my the churches of Christ. John Moody McCaleb was born at Duck River, Tennessee, September 25, 1861*, and passed from this life in Los Angeles November 7, 1953, at the age of 92 years, one month and fourteen days. Brother McCaleb gave his life to the work in Japan—a span of nearly fifty years. He returned to the States in 1941. A short time later, in 1942, he married Elizabeth Reeves of Tennessee and they established their home near Pepperdine College in Los Angeles. Brother McCaleb taught in the field of Oriental Religions at Pepperdine until ill health made his retirement necessary. His spirit and attitude toward all people everywhere is beautifully expressed in a song which he wrote, “The Gospel Is For All:”
Of one the Lord has made the race, Thru one has come the fall:
Where sin has gone must go His grace: The Gospel is for all.
Say not the heathen are at home, Beyond we have no call.
For why should we be blest alone? The Gospel is for all.
Received ye freely, freely give, From every land they call;
Unless they hear they cannot live: The Gospel is for all.

The writer of the Hebrew letter in the NT makes this point:

Heb.5:8, Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Heb.7: 27, Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

Heb.9:12, He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

Unity:

Who could miss the teachings that run throughout the Bible that God’s divine and eternal plan is for all, Jew and Gentile, to be united under one Head, the Christ? Our God is One. There is no division or confusion in God, and he desires that there be none in His people. As we are united in a common physical origin so God wants to reunite us in a common spiritual origin. New birth into a new race where there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all one in Christ.” (Gal.3:27)

When Paul the apostle visited Athens, Greece he proclaimed to them these truths:
Acts 17:26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” Paul seeks to lead all men to one common point, same origin and same end. We all share a common destiny uniting us.

Paul painted this picture for the Ephesians: Eph.2: 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

To think that followers of Christ perpetuated the slave trade, defending it even with crude interpretations of Scripture should be abhorrent to us. For us today as more enlightened followers of the Prince of Peace to overtly or even subtly persistence in racism is the height of ignorance and unbelief. It is to deny our common origins, to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to deny goal of unity for which Christ died.

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