Rev. Diane Kenney, United Ministry
Rev. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray, Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics, Center for Religion, USC and Co-founder, the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, USC
Two years ago The Rev. Chip Murray was invited by Church in Society to serve as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaker for our Region. Chip was a long time colleague of mine at USC; I dare to call him a friend. In despair over the Charleston shootings and subsequent church burnings, I sent him the email that follows. He responded quickly with words Biblical, theological, and activist, which are of help to me and hopefully to others within the Region.
I wrote: "The responses to the Charleston shooting and the subsequent burning of churches included one that won't leave me alone. "White people need to do more." Agreed. The reality: but we don't know what "more" means. If you would put something on paper directed to us "white people who need to do more" you would do much to kick some of us out out of a state of despair and stunned silence." ~Diane Kenney
[His response] 'How very thoughtful of you to seek ways of making the word become flesh. It is true that indifference really makes a difference for those who really care.
We have the options of being careful, carefree, or careless. The latter two, carefree and careless, detach; the first, careful, attaches.
If we are careful, full of care, not full of bull, we relate to the troubled and despairing persons and situations with our presence and with our participation. We recall how few were at the cross when the one to whom they had pledged allegiance drew his last breath.
On the other hand, we marvel at and applaud the steadfast outreach of Mother Mary, beloved John, and Mary Magdalene.
Here are some suggestions for action:
1. We might be present at walks that are sponsored by churches and organizations that make a statement with their energies.
2. We might engage the thinking of social media, daring to risk standing alone, knowing that being out of step does not equate to being out of focus.
3. We might join ventures with Black churches that are staging prayer vigils and invoking the two virtues which alone seem appropriate at this time: forgiveness and justice.
4. In our own houses of worship we might lead a focus group that makes a statement via prayer sessions and the outreach of love.
Summarily, we confess that God is in the delivery business--He delivered Daniel from the lion's den, saved Jonah from the belly of the whale and then the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace and I know He'll deliver poor me .
The proclamation makes us partners with God in the delivery business, for the love of God and the love of neighbor are embodied in the very essence of love, that which we proclaim as the bedrock of our Zion’s.
Our nation is holding its breath. If this point in our history passes us by while we simply watch or shake our heads, then we become not just part of the problem, but the essence of the problem itself.