STATEMENT ON DR MARTIN LUTHER KING
Rev. Charles A. Tillman, Sr.
Black Ministries Facilitator
January 18, 2016
November 2, 1983 was a great day for me. I celebrated my birthday and witnessed President Reagan sign a bill creating a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., heralded by many as the greatest civil rights leader of our generation.
Dr. King, a Baptist preacher who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was greatly influenced by the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi and espoused non-violence as a means to protest social injustice as displayed in the discriminatory treatment of Blacks by the majority culture. In his famous “I have a dream” speech, King articulated his desire to see the day when men would be judged by “the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin.
Forty years after his assassination, American has made leaps and bounds towards achieving the racial equality that Dr. King spoke about. She has not arrived, but the mere fact that America elected her first Black President is evidence of this fact. Whether one agrees with President Obama’s politics or not, his ascension to the White House is an historic achievement in itself.
As we celebrate the King Holiday this month, I would encourage each of us to be intentional in fulfilling his dream. Take time to meet, establish friendships and meaningful dialogue with persons who are different than you. Be willing to challenge racial stereotypes and fear by engaging in conversation with persons different than you. Anglos should attend church or other events hosted and led by persons of color. Blacks should be open and approachable to discuss current racial issues and challenges without hesitation or reservation.
We, as leaders and members of the Church of the living God, must lead the way in building a society that encourages, embraces and values racial and cultural diversity. As Christians, Christ Himself admonishes us, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). ML King Holiday is a great time to attend events that promote racial harmony and understanding.
I would encourage our Nazarene leaders to lead the way by delivering messages that challenge old racial fears and stereotypes held by some in our society. Invite persons of other races to attend church with you, and be willing to attend church with them. Challenge your church to be open to accept persons from other racial backgrounds to attend. District leaders should be willing to invest in planting new churches whose mission it is to reach Blacks and other persons of color. Let’s remember the sacrifice Dr. King made, with the premature loss of his life through assassination, and live the dream that he so eloquently conveyed in his march on Washington August 28, 1963.
He also offered several resource recommendations including:
Culture Trumps Religion, Every Time: The Ethno-Cultural Challenge for the Church by Dr. Oliver Raphael Phillips
Called to the Fire: A Witness for God in Mississippi; The Story of Dr. Charles Johnson by Chet Bush
King Came Preaching: The Pulpit Power of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Mervyn A. Warren