Children, Don’t Grow Weary
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9 (NRSVUE)
In 1961, a young Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at a church supper in our basement dining room. I would like to tell you his words and witness changed everything, but the truth is the event was almost lost to our congregation’s history. And while Dr. King was welcomed, funds were raised to support the Civil Rights Movement, and some clergy ventured South for a time, things remained more or less the same.
In 2010, after much prayerful consideration, our mostly white congregation adopted an anti-racism covenant. I would like to tell you this commitment changed everything; I am grateful for our ongoing anti-racism ministry and the dedicated church members who continue to challenge us. And … you know how it goes. The world is broken in many places, and in our well-meaning intention to put our faith into action we spread ourselves thin.
Last September, a middle-aged Black man appeared at the church door. In tears, he told me he was experiencing racism at his workplace and asked if I would pray for him. “V” has returned twice since then. Each time we talk a little longer. Each time he asks me to bless and anoint him.
I would like to tell you my prayers have changed everything, but all I can really say is that every time he gets down on his knees while a white woman prays that white people will stop oppressing him, I’m convinced all over again that we must not, cannot, will not give up.
Change our hearts and renew our spirits, O God, that we might not grow weary in the struggle for racial justice. And thank you for Dr. King.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.