Today was the third annual King Teach In. I have been every year, and I leave not only inspired, but empowered to be a part of the change—to continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose work is not done. I read the book by Reverend Dr. Barber, II with Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove, “The Third Reconstruction-How a moral movement is overcoming the politics of division and fear”, prior to coming to Wilshire Baptist Church a little over two years ago. I learned a lot about King’s life from this book, and I was excited Rev. Barber is picking up where Dr. King left off and brought back the Poor People’s Campaign. I told Heather Mustain and George Mason that Reverend Barber was someone who inspired me to not only stay in the faith, but work to be a part of the change. Here is this story:
MLK Jr is the first event I attended as a member of Wilshire Baptist Church, and the only event I have attended every session that Wilshire and Friendship-West Baptist have offered- I got here just in time to be at the start and watch it continue the good work each year. I am creating my own history with Wilshire, and I love that I am a Baptist – and MLK Jr is the reason why. My journey through my own suffering led me to the comfort of Martin Luther King, Jr. He is helping me hear the suffering of others through his words too. He didn’t live long enough for me to see him in person, but Reverend Barber taught me so much about him- Dr. Freddy Haynes, III has too. Rev. Barber says that part of being a pastor is touching what hurts. In America, we have a weird relationship to the word touch, but Jesus’s healings often involved touch. There is a good touch-the kind that heals. These conversations we have at each King Teach In’s touch on the pain of those who suffer.
Here is year two:
Now we are at year three with a lot more to talk about: the border, LGBTQ+, women, xenophobia, etc. We have to recognize our privilege in every possible way to make sure we are not part of what is feeding empire that is exploiting the poor. If we have privilege, we should use it to pick up a brother or sister and help them receive justice. Justice for everyone is good for everyone. If anyone is denied justice, none of us have justice.
We need to be vocal that poverty is violent. We are creating systems where people cannot thrive, and we are ignoring them living in our bubbles because we have the poor sectioned off out of sight. Martin Luther King says violence is the language of the unheard.
It was interesting hearing MLK Jr. speak so boldly against war in a video today. He was adamant that war is wrong. We cannot murder hate. War dulls the conscience. He had a really hard time getting people to focus on injustice in times of war. His faith and experience revealed to him love and nonviolence are the only way to heal and make change.
Dr. Freddy Haynes, III: Dr King was more than a dreamer; he fought against the American nightmare of injustice and economic exploitation.
Freddy’s son also led with a great speech at the beginning. He talked about Martin Luther King in a powerful way. He talked about the marches held in honor of MLK, and he said there is a march MLK Jr. didn’t get to see this past week (while he was alive)- the March of the Articles of Impeachment. White supremacy is going to trial.
George Mason: Reflecting on what kind of pastor he was going to be considering the how the Pastors responded to MLK Jr in the Birmingham jail – for the person behind the barb wire, or working for the one who put the barb wire up. George also said- pastors do not get in trouble for generalities; they get in trouble when they get specific.
Here are my FB posts after the event:
Before I post about today’s MLK 2020 Teach In, I want to say something about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he was working for everybody. Economic justice was of utmost important to him. He was anti-war (anti-violence in every way) because of his faith in Jesus Christ. This put him at odds with the NAACP, because Lyndon B Johnson had passed the voting rights act prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. They did not want to cross a President who had been the most favorable president for their rights – even though this president was racist and not a true friend, but he is a President that did pass policy that helped them. This is really important to know. Martin Luther King’s faith created change. This is why he did not live very long.
Mike Pence made the statement awhile ago that MLK gave his life away-which is the same language we use for Jesus. We need to stop saying that, because they were killed. They did not readily hand over their life to death – they were living their lives, and believing God’s way for the world is justice. I don’t know how the Bible can be read without seeing justice as a theme. Justice is what love looks like out loud.
As a woman, it isn’t lost on me that I found my freedom through Martin Luther King Jr. I had no voice in the church until I found the church I am in, and the first event I participated in was MLK Jr weekend and it was a gift to my war-torn soul.
I am very well aware of my white privilege and I am trying to use it for good, but let me tell you a little more about Jake Bruehl and my financial situation. It was terrible, and for all the judging we do on the poor-acting like they have some control over what happened to them when systems are working against them- let me tell you about people who are working hard (and you know they are working hard) and the financial burden we are facing. Our financial burden was growing increasingly burdensome. I wasn’t ready to face the fact we might get pushed out of Sachse. Our system is pushing out the public servants. Jake’s salary never increases – often it decreases b/c we bear the burden of increased Health care costs, higher property taxes, and teachers always make a very low living wage. I spent a ton of time helping him build teams in the club soccer world to help compensate our salary-he couldn’t do it alone, but I go paid zero dollars for it. My part-time job was pennies compared to the bills that were mounting.
It wasn’t until I got to Wilshire and seminary came up that I confessed we were struggling. Help came when I finally told people what was going on. When a teacher’s salary is the primary source of income -it isn’t going to work. Is this the kind of world we want? We pay those who are on the frontlines of justice -trying to educate our children and give them the best possible future, but we have created a system where no one wins. We pay teachers so little. We do not fund schools equally (racism is at play). Our alternative schools, where kids go when they get in trouble in school, are treating our children like criminals. We have a serious problem. And the military is recruiting our kids in high school promising them a future.
Martin Luther King Jr would be appalled. He said war dulls the consciousness. We can’t get people to focus on systems for justice when war is at play. It is a money maker, but also a system that kills our social uplift and it will lead us to a spiritual death.
He is speaking again. We need to listen and repent.
I am leading discussion on Amos tomorrow in Bible class. I can’t think of a more appropriate prophet to discuss on MLK Jr. weekend.
I talked to Kristen from Friendship-West about a mashup title I have for tomorrow’s lesson (Amos and King) – she loved it.
I have a dream that justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like and ever-flowing stream. Free at last, Free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last.
Bryan Stevenson: The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.
(Dallas is the most unequal city in the US in regards to racial equity and childhood poverty. Amos, King, Stevenson,( and I am joining their voices)- God cares about this-read Amos).
My first one 🙂
I have something to say about today, and I will when I get home and Re-listen. Today’s MLK Teach In was as powerful as the first time I went 3 years ago. It’s the very first event I went to with Wilshire, and feels like a Happy Anniversary to me and Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr. this is when I became a Baptist – The MLK Jr kind. There’s so many reasons why, But number 1 – he takes the gospel seriously and it matters right here, right now.
I showed up at Wilshire slightly over 2 yrs ago a worn out soul. Heartbroken but believing I found hope, and I just unloaded on Heather Mustain and George Mason. (Free 30 min therapy). I told them all of these people I had read that made me still believe in faith – Reverend Barber was a name I mentioned. Heather said -he’s coming over MLK weekend. That’s when I knew I found home, and it was incredible being in the same room with Rev Barber in Temple Emanu-El with people of all faiths, race (I know that’s a social construct, but America set up this way so have to address it), everyone welcome -meant everyone.
MLK Jr weekend feels like freedom for me too. And that’s what he was working for (for me 😂 jk – EVERYBODY!).
Also, I love how cool 😎 George stays giving a powerhouse word, and Freddy Haynes III– like me is having a blast waving our hands. I want to run around and stand on my hands when they both speak. This is why George and I are a great team. He’s a steady force for me.