Monday, March 17, 2008

Trinity UCC's Palm Sunday message

Would be nice if the media did a better job of dealing with "nuance". But, since they don't, I think it's important to hear what the current pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Otis Moss III, has to say in support of his church.

Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe.

Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ. This does not include weekday worship services, revivals and preaching engagements across America and around the globe, to ecumenical and interfaith communities. It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite,” said the Reverend Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.

During the 36-year pastorate of Dr. Wright, Trinity United Church of Christ has grown from 87 to 8,000 members. It is the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ denomination.

“It saddens me to see news stories reporting such a caricature of a congregation that has been such a blessing to the UCC’s Wider Church mission,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, in a released statement. “ … It’s time for us to say ‘No’ to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends.”

Trinity United Church of Christ’s ministry is inclusive and global. The following ministries have been developed under Dr. Wright’s ministerial tutelage for social justice: assisted living facilities for senior citizens, day care for children, pastoral care and counseling, health care, ministries for persons living with HIV/AIDS, hospice training, prison ministry, scholarships for thousands of students to attend historically black colleges, youth ministries, tutorial and computer programs, a church library, domestic violence programs and scholarships and fellowships for women and men attending seminary.

Moss added, “The African American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery and the legacy of prophetic African American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken marginalized victims of social and economic injustices. This is an attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.”

On a related note, I highly recommend Booman's post about Rev. Wright, Barack Obama, and race in America.

Also, Barack Obama is set to give a major address on race and politics tomorrow in Philadelphia.

Additional links:
Cincinnati NAACP responds to attacks on the African-American Church!

Remarks by Pastor Dan (a United Church of Christ minister) of Street Prophets

Let me tell you something about preaching by Pastor Dan

Can I get an amen?

UPDATE: As I was commenting elsewhere a couple days ago, there are people out there (often Hillary supporters) who seem to think this is a good time to pop some popcorn, sit back, and get their schadenfreude on. Hoping that this will be what takes Obama down, and rationalizing that it's for the best, because Wright's statements will only come back in the form of 527 ads in the fall. To me, that seems to be a very short-sighted "the ends justify the means way of looking at the situation.

And I can't help but be reminded of the whole "Dean scream" thing, and indeed the whole caricatured portrayal of the good doctor/governor from Vermont--which for some people, was all they ever saw of him. Some fellow Democrats who supported another candidate happily adopted a "blame the victim" approach, saying that Howard should have known this was how hardball politics was played, and should have been more careful not to provide the media soundbites that could be used against him.

Why are we not all working harder to hold the media more accountable? And to make sure the rest of the story is told, and the context is provided, so that people know the whole story.

As much as I would have liked to see an Al Gore candidacy, I completely understood why he wouldn't want to subject himself to another political campaign, given the treatment he received from the media last time around. Sadly, things haven't gotten better since then.

One thing that saddens me is the stunning lack of curiosity that so many people have displayed with regard to Rev. Wright and his church of 8000 members. In the Palm Sunday sermon at my church, my priest quoted something that Wright had said when he spoke to the Ohio Ministries Convocation earlier this year. I couldn't scrawl fast enough to write down what he said, but thought I might be able to find that speech on line somewhere. So far, no luck. Will have to keep looking.

Right now, though, I need to get to work. For those who have YouTube viewing capabilities, I recommend watching these videos which were made by ministers at Trinity UCC.

Haloscan comment thread