"Not saying - Just Asking"

photo credit: “Connectionalism II” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, Connecticut, USA.

photo credit: “Connectionalism II” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, Connecticut, USA.

I have long wondered why some Methodist Christians endorsed slavery, segregation and did not resist the burning of crosses at KKK events. And refused me entry to their worship services, kept me from swimming at Lake Junaluska, and denied me entrance to Duke Divinity School; all because of my race. 

A reading of “Juicy Ecumenism” and its story about evangelicals and their debates about the “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel” helps me better understand my United Methodist brothers and sisters who are Traditionalists. Their view of “spreading the Gospel as a priority” and social justice activism as Not being a priority; helps to explain this moment in the UMC. My history of being concerned about racial justice is not embraced in their understandings of “spreading the Gospel”. 

This helps me remember a long ago moment in Dallas, Texas. My father was pastor of St. Paul Methodist Church in Dallas, a well known Church in the Central Jurisdiction. It was one of those “Race Relations Sundays” when white and black Methodists had superficial conversations about race. A white person, I don’t remember whether a man or woman, stood up and looked at the black persons in the Church and said; “Don’t worry about racial segregation on earth. When we get to heaven we will be together.”

Poet Countee Cullen the adopted son of a pastor of Salem Church in Harlem wrote a poem about an “Incident” in Baltimore when a white boy looked at a black boy and “Stuck out his tongue and called him nigger”.

I was a boy when that moment in a Church in Dallas became an “Incident” for me that I “long remember”. That person long ago was saying to the black persons in that Church, what the white boy said to the black boy in Baltimore. 

I as an old “slow learner” have come to realize that my Traditionalist colleagues view faith-based justice activism as a divergence from their priority of preparing souls to go to heaven. The injustices past and present that indigenous people, blacks, women, and now same gender loving persons have experienced/experience from the Church on earth is of little consequence to them. 

The Justice described in Amos 5: 24 is diversionary?
“The Good News for the poor, freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and the release of the oppressed” that Jesus speaks about in Luke 4: 18, is anti-evangelical and traditional?

Must I and others begin to realize that my sisters and brothers who call themselves Traditionalists want to to “Make The United Methodist Church Great Again”. A “Greatness” that embraces the “Again” when blacks were enslaved, segregated and lynched. Women were denied ordination as clergy. And Gil Caldwell was denied entry to some Methodist Churches, segregated at Lake Junaluska, and denied admission to Duke Divinity School?

“Not saying - Just Asking”

Gil Caldwell - a.k.a. Rev. Gilbert Haven Caldwell Jr.