A Service of Unity
by Rev. Scott Dickison
In the last couple of months I have become involved with a paired clergy group coordinated by John Dunaway of the Mercer University Beloved Community Symposium. This group pairs pastors from predominantly African-American congregations with pastors of predominantly white congregations in the hopes of fostering relationships that will not only benefit the pastors themselves but also their churches, and dare we say it, the greater Kingdom of God. This group meets for breakfast about once a month andincreasingly has looked for ways of deeper and broader engagement.
In my sermon a few Sundays ago I mentioned an exciting event organized by this group in the hopes of doing just that. This clergy group has worked to plan what’s being a called a Unity Worship Service. It is being hosted by Rev. Leroy Reeves, Jr. at Center Hill Baptist Church here in a Macon, on Sunday, September 29, at 6:00 p.m.
Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University will be the guest preacher, and our own sanctuary choir here at FBCX will help lead in worship.
The literature publicizing this service says that it is in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. Of course, this entire year marks the 50th anniversary of several important events from the Civil Rights Movement, and it is good for us to mark this seminal period in our nation’s history.
But in thinking about this service I’m reminded of another speech Dr. King gave in Washington D.C., this one in 1968, just a few days before he was assassinated. It was actually a sermon, preached at the National Cathedral. In it he offered a reflection he had used on several occasions throughout his ministry, which has now become one of his lasting prophetic observations. He told the congregation gathered, “Eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of America,” of course referring to the hour most Christians are in church.
Now almost 50 years later, this observation still rings true. If that hour on Sunday mornings is any less segregated it’s simply because fewer people are going to church. And there are certainly defensible reasons for why this is the case, but Dr. King’s observation is less a specific call for integrated congregations and more a general invitation for Christians of all races, ethnicities and any other potential division to truly “dwell together in unity,” as the Psalmist puts it, in meaningful ways.
On Sunday, September 29th at 6 p.m. in the evening, we’ll try to do just that. It’s not eleven o’clock in the morning, but it’s a start. I hope you’ll join us.