Posted by: morgan1965 | October 8, 2017

The Spirit Of Taking A Knee

In recent weeks the news has been checkered with a variety of conversations, pro and con, about some professional athletes who made a public protest on bended knee during the playing of the national anthem. To be sure, it is customary to stand when the national anthem is played in a public venue such as a football game. This unorthodox practice, taking a knee, was sparked by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who took a knee. He knelt in silence to demonstrate his protest against the significant number of black people who were being killed by police officers.

Kaepernick’s first demonstration in 2016 was simply to remain seated during the anthem. After some reflection and consultation, Kaepernick decided to take a knee.  Other Americans have taken a knee in protest against violence, discrimination and injustice. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a knee in protest of America’s segregation against African Americans. On the one hand, for King to take a knee was a symbol of protest, but it was also a sign of submission to almighty God. While taking a knee, King and his fellow protesters offered their prayers to God.

The sprinter takes a knee when kneeling in a starting position at the beginning of a race. This crouched position enables the sprinter to start rapidly with speed and fluidity. The knee in this instance represents a starting position. America, indeed, needs a fresh start in the arena of racism and inclusion.

There were some people who questioned the patriotism of Martin Luther King, Jr. There are now some people who question the patriotism of any person who takes a knee during the singing of the national anthem. African American patriotism is beyond question, because African Americans have fought in every war, beginning with the War for Independence to the present day. The embrace of patriotism perhaps has been a bitter sweet bill, considering the fact that during World Wars I and II, African Americans were placed in segregated units, commanded by white officers. Nevertheless, these patriots fought with courage and valor.

James Weldon Johnson wrote the poem titled, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was later set to music. Consider the depth of patriotism and fidelity couched in the words of the first verse:

“Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the listening skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun

Let us march on till victory is won.”

Johnson poignantly notes that the road has been stony and the chastening rod has been bitter. Hope at times seemed to be dead, but the struggle continues until the present day and beyond. Regardless of the difficult and weary years and the many tears, Johnson offers a heartfelt and pleading prayer:

“Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

May we forever stand.

True to our God,

True to our native land.

This poem, affectionately known as the Negro National Anthem, manifests a focus on God and an unwavering allegiance to the nation; yes, the United States of America that once enslaved African Americans.

The African American spiritual, “Let Us Break Bread Together” provides an appropriate rallying call:

“Let us break bread together on our knees.

Let us drink wine together on our knees,

Let us praise God together on our knees”

This is the Christian response of brotherhood and sisterhood. Perhaps we should all take a knee, and listen to God’s call to love our neighbors.

Khalil Gibran has an intriguing quote: “Yesterday, we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today, we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.”

Jesus took a knee, and washed the feet of his disciples.

Martin Luther King, Jr. took a knee in an act of protest and prayer.

The act of taking a knee is to stand for justice, peace and the beloved community.

Think about it!





Posted by: morgan1965 | September 19, 2017

Praying For Our President

A part of my prayer discipline is to maintain a prayer list that I update on a daily basis. Included in this list is the President of the United States. Some people have told me that they cannot, or do not pray for the POTUS. Still other folk have suggested that, although they do pray for him, they struggle to formulate the appropriate prayer for our President. The following prayer is my prayer offering for our POTUS. It has emerged out of my own struggle to articulate an appropriate prayer the elected leader of our nation.


Dear God, I give thanks to you for your quiet presence in the midst of life’s raging storms, some that are the result of natural phenomenon, and others that are the result of human evil and wrong doing. It is a delight to know that you prepare the way for your pilgrim disciples as we struggle to love our neighbors and to live in peace.

In these turbulent days, we are witnesses to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, political wrangling in the halls of congress, and wars. Lord, we need leadership that strives to “do the right thing.” We need leaders who will stand up for justice and peace. God, we need you to anoint our leaders, especially our POTUS who is the leader of these United States. Yes, we realize that “there is no authority except from God” (Romans 13:1b).

I ask that you hold President Trump in your hand, and anoint him with your loving spirit. Each day, give him courage to ascertain your will, and to do your will. Each day, give him wisdom to discern what is the right thing to do for the people of the United States. Each day, give him the vision to walk the path of righteousness, justice and peace. Each day, open his eyes and enable him to see the rainbow of people he was elected to protect as president and public servant. Each day, touch his lips and cause him to speak the truth that will set him free to lead this nation in a manner that is good for all the people. Lord, today, give our POTUS a clean heart so that he can serve all of the people without distinction. Please hold him in your unchanging hand. Amen

Posted by: morgan1965 | September 3, 2017

Labor Day’s Spiritual Dynamic

Labor Day is a traditional American holiday that is celebrated on the first Monday in September. Appropriately created by the labor movement, Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements and contributions of all American workers. Workers are the very fabric of our national economic strength and prosperity.

The word, labor, means work, especially hard work. Some synonyms for work are toil, exertion, industry, drudgery and effort. The process of childbirth is commonly known as labor. To labor means to work hard, or to make a great effort at doing something.

As we honor our workers, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind: “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man [woman] should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” This is a matter of human and spiritual pride. In the deepest sense, it is a spiritual matter.

There are many American workers, seen and unseen, known and unknown, honored and dishonored, paid and unpaid. One of America’s great workers is the homemaker. Consider the words of Maya Angelou:

“I’ve got the children to tend

The clothes to mend

The floor to mop

The food to shop

Then the chicken to fry

The baby to dry

I got the company to feed

The garden to weed

I’ve got shirts to press

The tots to dress

The can to be cut

I gotta clean up this hut

Then see about the sick

And the cotton to pick.”

So, we honor and celebrate all workers on Labor Day and every day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a committed advocate for unions and the rights of workers. On April 3, 1968 King gave a speech to support the sanitation workers who were on strike for union recognition in Memphis, Tennessee. He was assassinated the very next day. King warned that slogans such as “right to work” could “rob us of our civil rights and job rights.” King today would support pay equity for women, fair wages for all workers, and equal job opportunities. He advocated for justice in all aspects of human life.

Work has both a material dimension and a spiritual dimension. When I was growing up, a song that was sung in my church was titled, “Work for the Night is Coming.”  It urged one to “Work, for the night is coming, when man’s work is done.” I later realized that the reference to work was more than one’s work on the paid job. Folks were singing about Kingdom work, the spiritual dimension of work. Jesus said: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

The disciples of Jesus left their regular work to follow Jesus. In following Jesus, they began a new work in partnership with Jesus. They became evangelists, sharing the Good News. We too are in partnership with Jesus as we do the work of ministry and mission. Jesus declares that there is no time to waste, because there is work to do that must be done in the now. Remember, night is coming; so, we work while it is day. We follow the Light of Christ. It is Jesus Christ who offers salvation to humankind.

In this life, there is work to do in the name of Jesus. This work is kingdom work, the work of ministry and mission. The Christian church, therefore, has a charge to keep as we glorify God. We must work together as partners in ministry. Hurricane Harvey currently provides an opportunity for pilgrim disciples to work together as partners in ministry with flood victims in Texas and Louisiana. The response to the human condition is both material and spiritual.

Think about it!

As we consider both the material and spiritual dimensions of our labor, let us remember this prayer: “The things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us the grace to labor for.” Amen. (Thomas Moore, The UM Hymnal, #409)



Posted by: morgan1965 | August 22, 2017

Leaders and the Moral High Ground

Race has been at center stage of American life from the embryonic emergence of the original thirteen colonies, and the fruition of the 50 states which constitute the United States. The Colonial States embraced slavery which subsequently was replaced by various forms of racism – Jim Crow laws, segregation, lynching, and various forms of discrimination.

W.E.B. DuBois made a cogent observation in his book, “The Souls of Black Folk,”originally published in 1903. DuBois said: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War…” The recent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia centered on the proposed removal of a General Robrt E. Lee statue from a city park. America again witnessed public expressions of racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Such atrocities cannot be tolerated or condoned in any manner or at any time in this nation.

The news media made America aware of the deadly violence that erupted at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, August 11, 2017. In the aftermath, President Trump seemed to draw an equivalence between white nationalist groups and the people protesting in support of equality. President Trump cast blame for the violence on “many sides” and “both sides.” He defended the racist demonstrators, some of whom waved Nazi flags and burned torches. There was a prominent display of hate as reflected in the shouted racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

Many Americans have concluded that the moral failure of our president in response to the Charlottesville event deserves comment. The question has been raised about the integrity of his “moral compass.” There is an expectation that the POTUS will exert moral leadership in times like this, and in times of crisis. It is one’s moral compass, then, that should provide guidance to one’s leadership.

In the aftermath of the Charlotte event, where do we go from here? Many political and religious leaders have urged the POTUS to condemn racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy in clear and unequivocal terms. Such a condemnation would indicate a national direction that does not accept or tolerate these atrocities.

Just what is a moral compass? A moral compass can be defined as “an internalized set of values and objectives that guide a person with regard to ethical behavior and decision-making.” The moral compass is informed by the values and moral standards that are instilled in a person by parents, family, church, community, and school. These values are further informed by one’s cross-cultural experiences and international experiences.

There are examples of previous presidents who exemplified moral leadership in a time of crisis. One such example is the Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln was attempting to hold the nation together and to lead the nation toward unification and peace.

From a Christian perspective, the moral compass is Jesus, “the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and pilgrim disciples follow that light. In navigational terms, Jesus is “true north.”

The nation is always in need of moral leaders, both political and religious. When Bayard Rustin introduced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washing as he prepared to give the historic “I have a Dream” speech, he presented him as “the moral leader of our nation.” King’s moral compass was Jesus and his navigational tools were love and nonviolence. He was the moral leader of the civil rights movement.

Who are our moral leaders today – community, state, nation, and world? This is an important question to ponder. To be sure, this is a time for deep personal reflection on the part of all people of faith.  This is a time for neighbors to engage in conversation about racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. This is a time for ministers to lead their congregations in meaningful prayer and worship. This is a time to seek the moral high ground and take a stand for justice, righteousness and peace.

In brotherhood and sisterhood, let us lift up the name of Jesus who is the way (the way, the truth and the life) to higher ground. Let us remember too that in matters of moral leadership, the POTUS only holds penultimate status. Jesus Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the ultimate moral high ground, the solid rock.

Think about it!





Posted by: morgan1965 | August 5, 2017

Health Care: The President’s HAND

All Americans need health care! This is a human right and not a privilege. As a member of the United Methodist Church, I affirm the fact that “from our earliest days United Methodists have believed that providing health care to others is an important duty of Christians.” Health care should be made available to all people without regard to their ability to pay. The reality is that in the United States the ability to pay for health care varies from person to person. The plain truth is that most people need help to pay for medical costs. That is the reason for health insurance.

In the current debate about health care for all people, there is very little conversation about the reality that the American health care system is built on a profit platform. First, insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Their profits are significant. Second, the drug companies are in business to make a profit. Their profits are huge.

In light of the above, in its Social Principles, the United Methodist Church “affirms the duty of government to assure health care for all.” The Affordable Care Act was adopted to make health insurance available to a greater pool of people, many of whom previously had no insurance, could not afford insurance or had preexisting conditions. Attendant issues are the matters of access, quality and cost. Health care costs have been spiraling ever higher for years. Passage of the Affordable Care Act, however, has enabled more people to be covered by health insurance. Now, it is estimated that nearly 17 million Americans are covered under the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA has been under attack from its inception. The Republican controlled Congress and the POTUS have been attempting to repeal and replace the ACA. At this time, the U.S. Senate has rejected five different ACA (Obamacare) replacement bills. Senate Republicans have considered a wide variety of ACA repeal plans, but none mustered the necessary 51 votes needed for passage in the Senate. Polls have noted, in the meantime, that there has been a significant rise in the popularity of the ACA.

The Senate defeated the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act at 1:35 AM, Thursday, July 28, 2017. This was a slimmed down repeal package.

President Trump has been of the opinion that it would be “so easy” to give people “great health care at a fraction of the price.” Health insurance is complicated. The ACA is complex. There are no easy answers to fixing it. Rather than repeal and replace the ACA, Congress should be working in a bipartisan way to fix the problems that hamper the ACA. But, there is a complication. POTUS said, “Let Obamacare fail,” apparently abdicating any responsibility on his part.

David Horsey in a recent essay (The Baltimore Sun, August 2, 2017) used this caption: “Defeat of ‘skinny repeal’ bill leaves U.S. health care in Trump’s careless hands.” Note his observation: “After complaining about Obamacare for seven years, Republicans failed to offer up any legislation that would not make the present flawed health care regime dramatically worse.” Horsey concludes his essay with this statement: “The frightening reality is that, for now, the fate of America’s health care system rests in the hands of a president who seems perfectly willing to let it disintegrate into chaos.”

I am reminded of “The Gambler Lyrics” by Kenney Rogers:

“You’ve got to know when to hold’em

Know when to fold’em

Know when to walk away

And know when to run

You never count your money

When you’re sittin’ at the table

There’ll be time enough for countin’

When the dealin’s done.

In poker terms, the POTUS has stayed with his hand (repeal and replace). It is, however, a matter of “when to hold’em and when to fold’em.” Perhaps it is time to fold’em, and get on with the task of fixing the ACA for the good of the nation.

What would it be like for the President to sit down with the leadership of the House and Senate, and admit that the people of the United States deserve affordable health care? Congress should confess that the process to secure repeal and replacement used so far is not working. Such a negative effort, if successful, would deny health insurance to millions of people.  The POTUS, however, could invite the Congressional leadership to craft a bipartisan fix to the ACA. Now that would be presidential leadership.

Mr. President: “You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.”

Think about it!



Posted by: morgan1965 | July 29, 2017

A Presidential Pretender?

This week (July 17-21, 2017) has been painfully dramatic in the life of Washington politics. The week began with POTUS tweeting his discomforts with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who has been a loyal supporter. There have been new revelations about Jared Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials.  On Monday, POTUS gave a highly, politically laced speech to 40,000 Boy Scouts who were in attendance at their national jamboree in West Virginia.

By midweek, the nation learned that the Secretary of State was going to take some time off, after six months on the job. There apparently is some unrest in the State Department. Abruptly on Wednesday, POTUS tweeted his plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate again failed in their seven-year effort to repeal Obama Care. POTUS in response criticized the Senate Republicans for their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

By the end of the week, POTUS seemed to endorse police brutality in a speech to the law enforcement community on Long Island, New York. In addition, he ousted his chief of staff.

Our nation elected a president who seems to be failing in his task of being presidential. Among his many campaign promises, Donald Trump made several top promises.

  1. ‘Build a wall’ on the southern border – and make Mexico pay for it
  2. Temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States
  3. ‘Bring manufacturing jobs back’
  4. Impose tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico
  5. Renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership
  6. Renegotiate the Iran deal
  7. Leave Social Security as it is
  8. Cut taxes
  9. Take the oil from ISIS
  10. Full repeal of Obamacare and replacement

Evaluate for yourself the progress he has made on these promises, whether you favor them or not. It takes leadership to fulfill campaign promises.

Presidential leadership, among other things, is based on truth, integrity, collaboration, cooperation, mutual respect and perseverance.

I am reminded of an old rock song, “The Great Pretender,” that was sung by the Platters:

“Oh, Oh, yes I’m the great pretender

Pretending that I’m doing well

My need is such I pretend too much

I’m lonely but no one can tell”

Is our president in a world of his own? Is he playing some kind of a political game? Is he presidential, or is he just pretending? Is he a pretender, one who makes false allegations or unjustified claims?

Think about it! And draw your own conclusion.

Posted by: morgan1965 | May 13, 2017

A Tribute To My Mom On Mother’s Day 2017

It was a little past midnight on a Sunday when the telephone rang. My father was calling to tell me that my mother had died earlier in the night. I was stunned, because on Saturday I had just visited with her in the hospital where she was recovering from surgery. Her death was sudden and it took us by surprise.

I have fond memories of my mother. As we celebrate Mother’s Day 2017, I want to share some of those memories with thanksgiving. Mom was a constant presence in our lives as children (2 girls and 2 boys). She chose not to work outside of the home, because she wanted to care for her children and be supportive of our father who was a local church pastor in the Methodist Church. When we came home from school she was always there to greet us.

Mom would help me with my homework, especially the spelling lessons. In elementary school, I had difficulty with my spelling lessons, but Mom would patiently help me to get ready for the inevitable weekly spelling test. She helped me to learn to spell, and to pronounce words correctly. She also helped me to develop my reading skills.

I never needed much encouragement to eat the food that was placed before me. Perhaps I have always enjoyed food because Mom was an excellent cook. Whatever food she prepared, it always tasted good – fried chicken, succotash, yeast rolls, biscuits, sweet potato pie, potato salad, rice pudding and turkey stuffing, among other delicacies.

Mom was a charming, sweet lady. She taught me to be patient, polite and kind. It was her personal example that taught me these qualities. Although she was soft spoken, she was strong in her Christian faith and personal disciplines. Every day she would read the “Upper Room” devotional book and her bible. She was compassionate. I don’t remember her expressing anger.

My siblings and I did not know either one of our grandmothers, both of whom died before we were born. I am grateful that my mother lived to see all of her grandchildren (my two and my brother’s three children). Mom dearly loved her grandchildren. She even flew all the way to Hawaii to see her grandson who was born in the Marshall Islands. Now that was a big trip for her, the longest in her life.

When I was single, I asked my mother to give me some instructions on cooking. She gave me three principles: First, how should I season different food? Season food to your taste. Second, how do I determine the right cooking temperature? Always cook food slowly. Third, how do I know how long to cook my food? Cook your food until it is done. I have continued to follow these three basic tips over the years.

Mom spent a lot of time in her kitchen. It was there that I observed her cooking techniques. Also, I had many conversations with her in the kitchen, a wonderful place to listen, talk, and observe.

I am also thankful for the women, in addition to Mom who were a mother to me. Some of those women were my aunts, Aunt Sarah, Aunt Marie, and Aunt Gwendolyn. They provided nurture, encouragement and support along the way.

I am grateful for my mother, Attrue Virginia Logan Lyght, who helped me to reach my full potential as a human being. She was ever present in my life as a child, youth and young adult. Her spirit remains a positive presence in my life today. I thank God for her abiding love.




Posted by: morgan1965 | April 16, 2017

An Easter Evening Letter

Dear Friends,

“Day is dying in the west;heaven is touching earth with rest;wait and worship while the night sets the evening lamps alight through all the sky.” (Mary A. Lathbury)

This is Easter Sunday: Resurrection Day.

The Easter sunrise services are over.

The morning worship services have adjourned.

Our day is fleeting away in the west.

What is on our agenda now?

As we prepare to enter into a new week,

I am reminded of Psalm 117:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations!

Extol him, all you peoples!

For great is his steadfast love toward us,

And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117)

We are Easter People, so let us daily praise the Lord –

With my head bowed, I will pray in the name of Jesus.

With my ears, I will listen to God’s Word.

With my mind, I will ponder God’s will and way.

With my lips, I will speak out in the name of Jesus.

With my hands, I will lend a helping hand to the poor.

With my feet, I will walk on the spiritual path with Jesus.

With my knees, I will stand up for Jesus.

With my heart, I will nurture God’s love.

With my actions, I will be a witness for Jesus.


Let us praise the Lord in this Eastertide.

Let us crown Jesus with our praise.

We are Easter People. Hallelujah!

Amen! Amen! Amen!





Posted by: morgan1965 | April 12, 2017

Easter People Have No Fear

Each year, the spiritual journey through Holy Week provides an opportunity to reflect on one’s experiences on the spiritual path with Jesus. The disciples of Jesus had a breath-taking experience as they traveled with Jesus from Palm Sunday to Easter. As for the disciples and for us, the events of Holy Week generate a variety of feelings that hopefully inspire us and draw us closer to Jesus.

During the course of this 2017 Lenten season, I have been anticipating the events of Holy Week that lead us to Easter, the Day of Resurrection. Last Saturday, I attended a 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Among the multiple joys for the honored couple was the guest appearance of a bagpipe band. The music was majestic, festive, and it reminded me of what it is like to experience a parade (I like parades.).

The next day was Palm Sunday, when we relived the parade that Jesus participated in when he rode a donkey into the city. At the beginning of our Sunday worship service, we received palm branches. We waved the palm branches as we sang “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” This was a stark reminder of how the crowd greeted Jesus with palm branches. The parade atmosphere, however, did not last, because a few days later the crowd that welcomed Jesus had turned against him.

This cloud of fear, doubt and anger, culminates on Maundy Thursday. I am reminded always that Jesus invited all of his disciples to break bread with him on Maundy Thursday. No one was excluded – not Judas the betrayer; not Peter the denier; not any of the disciples, all of whom deserted Jesus. At the supper, Jesus took a towel, girded himself, and washed the disciples’ feet. He stood among them as one who serves. He loved each one of them dearly.

In this Holy Week season, I am reminded of another man who took a towel. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on Thursday, April 4, 1968. He was a prophet in his own time, and he chose to love and to serve the people of this nation. The towel, however, could not stem the flow of blood from his mortal wound. But the towel remains a symbol of his servanthood. In the year 1968, King died on a Thursday evening, one week before Maundy Thursday. As the nation mourned Dr. King’s death, Christians entered into Holy Week. Are we willing to take a towel?

On Good Friday, I always give thanks for Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died on a cross. On the cross, he forgave his adversaries. He died for our sins. I also think about Martin Luther King, Jr. a follower of Jesus who gave his life for justice and freedom.

We meet Jesus at the cross. This meeting can transform our lives when we accept his forgiveness and his grace. I am still learning about the meaning of the cross of Jesus. I pray that Jesus will keep me near the cross.

Good Friday, yes, but Sunday is coming. On the third day, an on-time God raised Jesus from death to life. God displayed God’s resurrection power on Easter day.

Wars and rumors of war are constantly displayed in every news cycle. Let us not be afraid. Let us remember that we are “Easter people.”

Hallelujah!!! Amen!!!

Black Methodist For Church Renewal (BMCR) celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary during its annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio –  March 8-11, 2017. The annual meeting not only was an historic event, it was a festive and inspirational gathering. It was a privilege and a joy to participate in this gathering of United Methodists.

The first meeting of Black Methodists was held in Detroit, Michigan in the fall of 1967. Bishop Woodie White noted that about 30 people gathered from the several corners of the nation. Their purpose was “to assess the future of Black Methodists in a newly merged denomination. There was enthusiasm, concern, and commitment as we gathered.” This meeting was a bold move that helped African Americans to find a meaningful path in the new United Methodist Church.

The National Conference of Negro Methodists was convened in March of 1968. The meeting was adjourned as a new organization, Black Methodists for Church Renewal. The very title demonstrated a solid commitment to the denomination and an unwillingness to accept the status quo. Dr. William McClain in his sermon during the opening worship service (March 9, 2017) proclaimed that the black “presence was both protest and participation.”

The decade of the 1960’s was a turbulent era – assassinations of national leaders, urban riots and the Viet Nam War. The Methodist Church was in the process of desegregating by eliminating the Central Jurisdiction which was the political home of all the black annual conferences. The nation and the church would never be the same again as time marched forward.

Over the years since its inception, BMCR has maintained a vital presence in the UMC. Its voice has been both pastoral and prophetic, energetic and emphatic, visionary and vital. BMCR has been a voice for racial justice, inclusivity and renewal of body, mind and spirit. BMCR is a caucus group with a vision: “A renewed transformed unified body of Christ on mission in the world.” What is the mission?

“The mission of Black Methodist for Church Renewal is to raise up prophetic and spiritual leaders who will be advocates for the unique needs of Black people in the United Methodist Church.”

The 2017 annual meeting convened under the theme, “Celebrating A Legacy of Faith, Hope, and Renewal – More Rivers to Cross, More Milestones to Reach. Various speakers rightly reminded BMCR that there are still more rivers to cross. During the days of American slavery, the slaves carried the image of the rivers which marked the activity of crossing to “freedom.” The Ohio River was known as River Jordan among the slaves. The desire, then, was to escape from bondage in Kentucky (a slave state) and cross the Ohio River (a free state) to freedom. The setting, Cincinnati, is the city where BMCR was birthed, and this city is freighted with history. The Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in Cincinnati; its executive director, Dr. Clarence Newsome, was the banquet speaker. He also spoke of rivers, and barriers in life.

The meaning of rivers in black life and culture is captured in Langston Hughes’ poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers:”

“I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

There are rivers that remain. They must be crossed. BMCR is working within the United Methodist Church to enable the crossing of rivers through presence and participation.

Think about it!

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