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March 16, 2008

Trinity United Responds

No apologies. Instead, they've gone with the "look over there!" approach.

“AN ATTACK ON OUR SENIOR PASTOR AND THE HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH”:

Chicago, Ill. (March 15, 2008 ) — 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.

This does not even purport to address the issue. No one is disturbed that Wright tries to better the lives of "the oppressed." People are rightfully angry that he believes it's necessary to tear down "whitey" in the process. Obama spent the last year talking about unity and it turns out that his very good friend, his counsel, his pastor, the man who brought him to Christianity, built a following out of dividing black America from white.

Trinity United, and whoever wrote this release does the same thing by announcing that our scrutiny is an attack on the "African American Church." This is freshman-level victimology. I'm a little embarrassed for them.

“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 (UCC) denomination.

Well, woohoo for you! It turns out that there are 8,000 like-minded people who want to wallow around in their victimhood once a week. I wouldn't be bragging about that.

“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.”

What is he talking about? No one's trying to destroy any ministries or any congregations. In fact, I think we'd all appreciate it if Rev. Wright would make his sermon and lecture notes available for wider release. I am genuinely interested in knowing what he's all about, though I don't expect to sympathize or agree with much of it.

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.

These are all noteworthy and admirable projects. But they're not why Rev. Wright is in trouble. Nor do they negate his efforts to single out blacks, domestically and globally, and convince them of their oppression.

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.”

"God damn America" is the legacy of prophetic African American preachers? Douglass weeps.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached the Christian tenet, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Before Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, he preached, “The 11 o’clock hour is the most segregated hour in America.” Forty years later, the African American Church community continues to face bomb threats, death threats, and their ministers’ characters are assassinated because they teach and preach prophetic social concerns for social justice. Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.

It is laughable and shameful that a congregation that has self-segregated thinks that Rev. King's words will be a shield against further examination. By evoking Rev. King, Trinity United only looks worse by comparison.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 05:23 PM

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