February 17, 2012
One in Christ for the Sake of All
Representatives of the churches and organizations of Christian Churches Together in the United States assembled in Memphis, February 14-17, 2012, to respond to one question:
How might the Holy Spirit use the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his Letter from the Birmingham Jail to help the church live the Gospel more fully and proclaim it more faithfully?
In our time together, our hearts and our minds have been engaged by Jesus’ announcement that:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Companions of Dr. King have shared with us their first-hand experience in the Civil Rights movement and of their continuing work. We reconnected with the story of the students on the Freedom Ride. We journeyed to Slave Haven Museum and confronted the national memory of the slave trade, the millions of Africans who lost their lives or their freedom in the forced journey from Africa to the New World. We visited the Lorraine Motel and the National Civil Rights Museum, coming face to face again with the things that necessitated the Civil Rights movement and the Poor People’s Campaign. We recognized our call to the “fierce urgency of now” that Dr. King named.
We declare unequivocally that racism, extreme wealth disparity, injustice and poverty, and violence are inextricably linked together. Dr. King said that “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered” when “profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people.” We call upon the church to say and act unambiguously for people. An anti-racist church advocates for equity, pursues justice and embodies non-violence. We know this. We have experienced the reality of God’s in-breaking kingdom in our relationships with each other. Gathered by the Spirit, as children of Our Father, in the name of Christ Jesus, we have known both truth and trust in the presence of each other. From the perspective of an outsider looking in on our gathering, we may seem like unlikely partners – Christians of African, European, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific, Native American, and Middle Eastern descent meeting in friendship; Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Catholics, Orthodox, Historic African American, and Historic Protestants exchanging ideas and living in mutual hope. We belong together. We have heard God’s “Yes” to our relationships and we say “Amen to the glory of God.”
Our gathering as Christian Churches Together is a joyful fellowship for which we give thanks and pray is pleasing to God, for in gathering together we experience Christ tearing down the walls that otherwise divide us.