Woodlawn CC

Woodlawn CC

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr - A celebration of his life and work

As I have stated before my late mentor Jesse was a close and long time friend of Dr. King.  As a part of my ELM education I did write a paper about Dr. King.  As an American Baptist Dr. King is a very important man to our denomination and most likely the most famous American Baptist Pastor of all time.

May this essay stand as a tribute to both Dr. King and my friend Jesse's memory.

God's Eternal & Undivided Blessings to you all,

On January 15, 1929 at 501 Auburn Avenue N.E., in Atlanta Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born at the home of his parents the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. Martin was named Michael King at birth but his name was changed to Martin Luther around the age of six. He was one of three children born to the King family, his siblings were Christine King Farris and the Reverend Alfred Daniel Williams King.

Martin Junior's maternal grandfather the Reverend A.D. Williams was a rural minister for many years prior to moving to Atlanta in 1893 to take over the ministry of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Under his leadership the church went from around 13 members to being a prominent congregation in the Atlanta area. The Williams' had one surviving child Alberta who married Martin Luther King, Sr. in 1926 after a courtship of eight years. Upon the death of Reverend Williams, Martin Luther King, Sr. took over the Pastorate of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. It was after he stepped into the Pastorate that he changed his name from Michael King, Sr. to Martin Luther King, Sr. in honor of Martin Luther the great German Protestant Leader.

In May of 1936 Martin Jr. was baptized though he professed to it having had little impact upon him at the time. He entered public school at the age of five and later attended Booker T. Washington High School. There he was a apt student and was able to skip both the 9th and 11th grades. At the tender age of 15 he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1944.

Martin Jr. questioned religion and was uncomfortable with more emotional displays of religious worship. Young Martin had originally decided against following his family vocation of the ministry much to his father's disappointment. It was during his Junior year at Morehouse that Benjamin E. Mays the President of Morehouse convinced Martin that Christianity could be used as a vehicle for social change. A subsequent class on Biblical Criticism taught by George Kelsey renewed Martin's faith, and taught him “that behind the legends and myths of the Book were many profound truths which one could not escape”. In the fall of Martin's senior year at Morehouse he informed his father of his decision to pursue the Ministry which greatly pleased his father.

During his final semester at Morehouse Martin was ordained and went on to further his Christian education at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1948. It was at Crozer that my mentor the late Reverend Doctor Jesse Brown met and became a close friend of Martin. Jesse was a year behind Martin at Crozer, but roomed across the hall from him in the dormitory. Jesse impressed Martin when he learned that Jesse had spent the summer before enrolling in Crozer working in Harlem and had a great interest in Civil Rights. As a result, Jesse and Martin became good friends, they remained in contact and maintained a close friendship up until Martin's death in 1968. At Crozer Martin excelled and graduated as the valedictorian of the class of 1951.

It was in his final year at Crozer that Martin adopted Reinhold Niebbuhr as his mentor. Niebbuhr was to become perhaps the most influential individual on Martin's intellectual and spiritiual path. Upon graduating Seminary he went on to pursue his doctorate at Boston University. At Boston Martin was further influenced by his associations with Edgar Brightman and L. Harold DeWolf. Martin's studies towards his Doctorate in Systematic Theology showed little originality and even his dissertation showed outright and considerable plagerism in it's construction. What he did demonstrate was an ability to draw on and combine a wide breath of theological and philosopical thinking and express them clearly. This ability served him well in his future preaching and leadership in the Civil Rights Movement.

It was while a student at Boston Univeristy that Martin met Coretta Scott a student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The King's were united in marriage on June 18 of 1953 in Marion, Alabama. The King's went on to have four children, Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott and Bernice. While working on his dissertation Martin Jr. took on the Pastorate on Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama in 1953. In 1955 Martin successfully completed his Doctorate at the young age of 25.

The now Dr. King's carreer took a major turn the afternoon of December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue Bus. Her arrest culminated in the “Montgomery Bus Boycott”. Martin was selected on the evening of her arrest by E.D. Nixon and other black leaders in Montgomery to lead a new organization the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) in the boycott of the busing system in Montgomery by the black community. King's skill and fresh rhetoric energized the civil rights movement in Alabama and catapulted Martin into the spotlight.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 382 days and involved attacks being made upon the homes of both Dr. King and E.D. Nixon. It was a time of general intimidation and outright violence for the African American community in Montgomery, but ultimately after successful lawsuits and serious financial losses the city of Montgomery repealed their segregated public transportaion laws.

In late 1956 the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Alabama bus segregation laws in the case Browder v. Gayle. After which King sought to take his nonviolent civil rights movement to the entire South. King joined with others in January of 1957 in founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of which King became the founding president. The SCLC sought to harness the moral authority and organize the power of the black churches.

King's emergence as a national leader was furthered by the 1958 release of his publication of “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story”. With prominence and fame came increased personal consequences. King's home was fire bombed in several incidents, and in 1958 while signing books Izola Ware Curry stabbed him and surgery was reguired to attend to King's injuries.

In 1959 King spent a month visiting the birthplace of Gandhi in India. Pofoundly moved by this experience King redoubled his dedication to America's civil rights struggle with the counsel of Bayard Rustin a student of Gandhi's teachings on non-violent protest. Rustin was the primary organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and was a trusted advisor and Mentor to King during this time period inspite of the fact that Rustin was himself a controversial figure. Rustin was alleged to have ties to the Communist Party of the USA and was a known homosexual and because of this King was urged by many to sever his ties to Rustin.

In early 1960 King and his young family moved to Atlanta in order to take the position of co-Pastor along with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church and to be closer to SCLC headquarters in Atlanta. King's move to Atlanta coincided with the 'sit-in' movement in Greensboro, North Carolina. The African American students would go to racially segregated lunch counters and seat themselves in the white only areas. Once seated they would refuse to leave unless served, thus subjecting themselves to abuse both verbal and physical. The movement quickly gained traction in other cities and by August 1960 they had successfully ended segregated lunch counters in 27 southern cities.

On October 19th, 1960 Dr. King and 75 others requested service at a segregated lunch counter in Atlanta and were refused. This event resulted in King and 36 others being arrested. Atlanta's mayor arranged for the charges to be dropped however, shortly thereafter King was imprisoned for a violation of probation in regards to a traffic violation. This imprisonment affected the 1960 Presidential election when John F. Kennedy contacted King's wife Coretta with concern over Martin's harsh treatment. Kennedy's actions in securing King's release are considered by some to have been instumental in his narrow victory over Richard M. Nixon in that Presidential election.

In the early 1960's as the southern protest movement gained speed King was under increasing pressure from the more militant student activists such as the participants in the Freedom Rides. Wikipedia gives the following information concerning the 'Freedom Riders'.
1Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and following years to test the United States Supreme Court decisions Boynton v. Virginia (1960) and Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946). The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.
Boynton outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel. The ICC failed to enforce its ruling, and Jim Crow travel laws remained in force throughout the South.
The Freedom Riders challenged this status quo by riding various forms of public transportation in the South to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. They called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Police arrested riders for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses, but they often let white mobs attack them without intervention.

In 1961 through 1962 King's different tactics from the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) activists became apparent in Albany, Georgia during a prolonged protest. King was twice arrested at demonstrations promoted by the Albany Movement. When he was released from jail and left town without any progress some activits questioned his militancy and role within the protest movement in the South.

In Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963 King held a demonstration which was extremely well attended by the black community. The local police responded by arresting King and many of his supporters, and by using dogs and fire hoses to suppress the disapate the demonstrators. Due to the fact that the rally was attended by many families with children this incident led to Martin being criticized by clergy members both black and white for endangering the children who were in attendance. While still incarerated in the Birmingham jail King stated the following about his committment to nonviolence. “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

It was on August 28th of 1963 that Dr. King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech during a rally of over 200,000 people in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. King’s speech was the culmination of a wave of civil rights protest activity that extended even to northern cities. In his prepared remarks King announced that African Americans wished to cash the “promissory note” signified in the egalitarian rhetoric of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Closing his address with: “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream . . . that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” He appropriated the familiar words of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” before concluding, “when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last’”

King was clearly the most influential African American in the first years of the 1960's, due to his ability to draw national attention to racist authorities during the organized demonstrations and due in no small part to the power of his “I have a Dream” speech. Time magazine named him the “Man of the Year” in 1963 and he received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

As the struggle moved from desegregation protests to mass movements seeking economic and political gains in the North as well as the South, King’s active involvement became more limited. King’s influence was reduced even more by the increasingly violent nature of black militancy in the period after 1965. Black radicals increasingly abandoned the nonviolent methods of King in favor of the Black Nationalism of Malcolm X, whose autobiography and speeches (published after his death) reached large audiences after his assassination in February 1965. Unable to influence the black insurgencies that occurred in many urban areas, King refused to abandon his firmly rooted beliefs about racial integration and nonviolence.

In his last book written in 1967, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”, King dismissed the claim of Black Power advocates “to be the most revolutionary wing of the social revolution taking place in the United States,” but he admitted they met a need among African Americans he had not previously addressed. “Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery,” King wrote. “The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation”
King continued to speak out in opposition of the Vietnam War even as his influence declined. He made his position clear in his address “Beyond Vietnam”, given on April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. Even though his activity in the anti-war movement diminished his role in national race policies, King held firm to his conviction in Gandhian nonviolence and gocial gospel Christianity as being the best vehicles for changing the problems of black Americans.

On the evening of April 4, 1967 while on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Dr. King was assassinated by James Earl Ray. Just the night before King had stated in a speech, “But it really doesn’t matter with me now,” he declared, “because I’ve been to the mountaintop [and] I’ve seen the Promised Land.” He continued, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

Until his death King remained steadfast in his commitment to the radical transformation of American society through nonviolent activism. In his posthumously published essay, “A Testament of Hope” (1969), he urged African Americans to refrain from violence but also warned, “White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.” The “black revolution” was more than a civil rights movement, he insisted. “It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws-racism, poverty, militarism and materialism”.
The following honors, degrees and recognitions were received by Dr. King during his lifetime and are taken from the web-site, http://www.lib.lsu.edu/hum/mlk/srs218.html.

Dr. King received several hundred awards for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement.
Among them were:
  • Selected one of the most outstanding personalities of the year by Time, 1957.
  • Listed in Who's Who in America, 1957.
  • the Spingarn Medal from NAACP, 1957.
  • The Russwurm Award from the National Newspaper Publishers, 1957.
  • The Second Annual Achievment -- The Guardian Association of the Police Department of New York, 1958.
  • Link Magazine of New Dehli, India, listed Dr. King as one of the sixteen world leaders who had contributred most to the advancement of freedom during 1959.
  • Named Man of the Year by Time, 1963.
  • Named American of the Decade by Laundry, Dry Cleaning, and Die Workers International Union, 1963.
  • The John Dewey Award, from the United Federation of Teachers, 1964.
  • The John F. Kennedy Award, from the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago, 1964.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. At age 35, Dr. King was the youngest man, the second American, and the third black man awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The Marcus Garvey Prize for Human Rights, presented by the Jamacian Government. (posthumously) 1968.
  • The Rosa L. Parks Award, presented by the Southern Christian Leadrship Conference. (posthumously) 1968.

Honorary Degree
Dr. King was awarded honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities in the United States and several foreign countries. They include the following:
Doctor of Humane Letters, Morehouse College
Doctor of Laws, Howard University
Doctor of Divinity, Chicago Theological Seminary
Doctor of Laws, Morgan State College
Doctor of Humanities, Central State College
Doctor of Divinity, Boston University
Doctor of Laws, Lincoln University
Doctor of Laws, University of Bridgeport
Doctor of Civil Laws, Bard College
Doctor of Letters, Keuka College
Doctor of Divinity, Wesleyan College
Doctor of Laws, Jewish Theological Seminary
Doctor of Laws, Yale University
Doctor of Divinity, Springfield College
Doctor of Laws, Hofstra University
Doctor of Human Letters, Oberlin College
Doctor of Social Science, Amsterdam Free University
Doctor of Divinity, St. Peter's College
Doctor of Civil Law, University of New Castle Upon Tyne
Doctor of Laws, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lazy Day Sunday.. church, reading, coffee & cooking

Well this Sunday I decided to take it pretty easy.  Gail and I got up early and went to St. Paul's Lutheran Church for their 8:15 am service.  I enjoyed the service and the sermon today.  It was Communion Sunday at St. Paul this week, interestingly enough the last time we attended a service at St. Paul's it was also Communion Sunday.  Last time I found their Communion Celebration to be very interesting in that they incorporated into the ritual a healing  ceremony.  As we came forward before receiving the elements the Pastor crossed our foreheads with a dab of oil.  I found this ritual to be very edifying as you felt the sense that you were cleansed prior to joining with the blood and the body of Christ, truly a remarkable symbolic act.  The Pastor stressed that the act of healing is not equal to curing.  Sadly we often want to negate that distinction, healing is spiritual and curing is physical.

Once we got home I had a short cup of coffee and then Madeline and I headed off to attend service at Sunset Hills.  It has been several weeks since we've been to church at Sunset Hills and everyone was excited to see us.  Gail decided to stay home and work on her 'bags'.  She has set up a store online and is getting ready to start marketing her creations soon so she wanted to spend all day (and she has) working on them.

The difference between the two services was of course distinct (from traditional high church Lutheran to good old low church Baptist) and the difference in the preaching styles of the two Pastors is considerable.  I continue to make mental notes while watching and listening to sermons as to what I feel works and what I feel does not work.  Thus far my clearest and most crucial observations are to watch the number of illustrations in a sermon and to watch, watch, watch the length of your sermon.  Of course sermon length is an obvious concern; but even though every Pastor should be more than aware of this, so very many violate the rule of thumb of 15 to 20 minutes.

This afternoon I have been reading the book "The True Meaning of the Last Supper" by Donald R. Steelberg.  I bought this book for the Kindle awhile back and started it but then had to break away and read several other books for my ELM classes.  Well last night I decided to pull it back up and start again from the beginning.  The author is a retired Mennonite Pastor who was raised in the Evangelical Free Church.  I mentioned this book back in my November 20th post and I'm ashamed that it's taken me this long to get back to it and I'm hoping actually to finish it yet tonight.

The True Meaning of Communion

This evening I skipped the gym and stayed home.  Too stinking cold out there... LOL, and since I'm starting a new program this week I thought giving my joints an extra day of rest before jumping in wasn't the worst idea I've ever had.  So tomorrow it starts anew with a serious focus on diet and a different training philosophy than I've ever used before.  I'm adopting a full blown bodybuilding routine for 2013 in an effort to see if I can put some mass on this 53 year old body.

Since Gail has been busy 'creating' today and tonight, I made turkey chili for supper.  I know it's hard for many of my friends to believe that I ever cook, LOL... but I have learned to make chili since I very much like venison chili and Gail refuses to cook venison.  The turkey chili was good but just doesn't measure up to either beef or venison chili.

Well enough for tonight, I'm going to go back to reading to see if I can't finish this book yet tonight.

May you all be blessed!

In His Grace & Love,

Since I haven't posted a photo of a rural church for a bit here you go.  This looks like a very cute little church, sad to say though I don't know where it's located.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jed Morgan update:

Update taken from Caringbridge:

by Tom Atkinson
It has been awhile since our last update but Jed and Anna are doing great! They just returned to San Diego following a wonderful family visit in Colorado Springs. But as they return, they ask for your prayers regarding several big events about to occur.

Thursday, January 17th:  The docs will do additional surgery on Jed's hand. If you remember, his hand was a major concern early on and still continues to be.There are no guarantees with the surgery but please pray that the work of the surgeon will eventually allow for more motion and dexterity. The more use he gets back, the more impact on his life.

Tuesday, January 22nd:  Jed gets his permanent legs!  As exciting as this news is, it will be quite the challenge as he adjusts. Please pray for a quick adjustment.

Thursday, January 24th:  They will attempt to reverse his colostomy. There are also no guarantees with this surgery so please pray there will be no complications and normal function will return.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for the family.  They appreciate it very much. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Early Church Services

For the last two Sunday services Gail & I have taken in the 8:30 am service at Benson Baptist Church.  The week before that we attended St. Paul Lutheran Church's 8:15 am service.  We've really gotten to like attending early services as it gives us a fuller day on our one day off a week.  Reverend Paul Marine is the Pastor at Benson Baptist and I have to say that I've heard him preach three times now and every time I have gone away very impressed with his preaching style. 

Today on our way into the Church building, we ran into Susan Gillies.  I haven't seen Susan for quite sometime now and it was very good to visit with her.  After the service Gail and I stopped and chatted with her for quite a long time.  Susan is the ex-Executive Minister for the ABC Nebraska and a sister to Kathy Brown my late mentor Jesse Brown's wife.  Susan told me about the upcoming Biennial Mission Summit this coming June.  The Biennial is taking place in Kansas City this year so I really should try to work it out to attend.  The only issue is that in June and July there are several events coming up and I'll have to see if I can afford to be out of the Gallery for several weekends in a row.

This weekend was our January ELM training session.  This month we discussed 'worship' and the instructor was Glenda Dietrich Moore an ordained DOC Pastor from Lincoln.  It was a good session and it was very interesting to me to compare the various orders and content of worship and the differences between the four denominations involved in ELM.  We haven't had a session since October so we were all looking forward to seeing each other again and catching up.  Sadly we learned that our class mate Shirley Bible from Council Bluffs is still having serious health issues.  I'd very much appreciate any prayers that anyone reading this blog might lift up on Shirley's behalf.

We had some great conversations over the weekend and I do think that our poor instructor was a bit over whelmed as all of us were very excited to be back together and everyone was sharing and commenting all throughout the class.  Our class is very comfortable together and at times I can't help but feel for the instructors as they really have to work to keep the class on track and on schedule.  The upside is that everyone brings up wonderful points and all the sharing of experiences gives the rest of us great insights into practical use of what we are learning.

As far as my weight training is going I've kept training but let up on the workout intensity and dieting for the last two holiday months.  Starting a week from tomorrow it will be back to high intensity training and a strict diet.  I haven't really gained too much extra weight and my strength has stayed pretty stable so I am in a good position to spring back into heavy training next week.

Thank you all for following along and God Bless you all.

In His Eternal Grace and Joy,


Psalm 30 (NRSV)

1I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

3O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

4Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.

5For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

6As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”

7By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

8To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:

9“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

10Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!”

11You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year to All

Well the first day of the 2013 is almost in the record books.  I pray that all of you that read this blog have a wonderfully blessed and joy filled 2013.  May it be the best year of your lives thus far.

I look forward to 2013 with a great deal of anticipation as well as a bit of dread.  There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a transformative year in my life.  For one thing I will complete the ELM (Educating Lay Ministry) program in October and then the search for a pulpit will shift into high gear.  I already have lain some of the groundwork towards that end having talked to both the Nebraska American Baptist and the Iowa American Baptist.  It would be wonderful if the opportunity to serve a congregation developed this year and I am hopeful that this is God's will.

The art business continues to suffer both nationally and locally so both Gail and I are working on formulating changes in the gallery as well as working on other business ventures to supplement the gallery.  Hopefully we'll determine in the next few months just what direction all of this will take.  

I have toyed with idea of competing in bodybuilding or physique this year but with all the other things up in the air and in flux, I am afraid trying to focus that much attention, energy, and funds in that area just isn't practical.  So my goal of someday competing will have to wait for another year or more.  That is fine and I'll just focus on training hard and trying to build more muscle mass.

This year Gail and I will officially become empty-nesters as Maddie will be going off to college this fall.  Her goal is to get into UNL and study psychology.  Creath will be graduating from USF this spring and he's still trying to decide between going on for his doctorate in Philosophy or following his dream of getting into a band and working in the recording industry.  It's a difficult decision for him and as much as we'd like to give him advice we're trying to support him which ever way he decides to go.

So it's going to be a year of change and like most folks I'm not always comfortable with change.  But with God's help and considerable prayer we'll get through it and it will all ultimately be for the best and for His glory.

In Christ,