May 4, 2000

General Conference Logo.

The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Former President of SCLC Signs the United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church Statement

Excerpted from MFSA's SQB for May 4, 2000 which is in PDF format.

   Joseph E. Lowery, retired United Methodist minister, former President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), following Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, electrified the General Board of Church and Society Dinner with his Biblically-based, social-justice focused message.

   Lowery, noted over the years for his ability to not only "talk the talk, " but "walk the walk," addressed a series of justice issues that still challenge us in this first year of the 21 st century. Among these issues are -economic imbalances -biblically-based "affirmative action" -one-way racial integration -fear of Cuba, expressed through an embargo, contrasted by a quest for economic relations with China- a racially- biased justice system -the risk the church takes when it restricts, limits and excludes those whose orientation is homosexual. Dr. Lowery wondered out loud, "How could the church, because of a person's sexual orientation, deny ministry to those whom God has called?" He then suggested that he would prefer to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion.

   His comments on full inclusivity within the body of Christ were made in the late afternoon of a day that began with Bishop Arthur Kulah's morning sermon, "Authority for What?" Bishop Kulah, the distinguished Bishop of the Liberia Annual Conference identified "homosexualism. one of the threatening challenges to our church. ..." It is interesting that Bishop Kulah near the end of the sermon, used the words that are so closely identified with Martin Luther King, Jr., "When you obey God. will not judge people on the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!"

   Two gifted God-confirmed leaders, Arthur F. Kulah, an African, and Joseph E. Lowery, African American, were both influenced by the courageous insights and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

   How, we ask Bishop Kulah, do we discover "content of character" in persons, if their very being "challenges" the church and renders them incompatible?

   Thank you, Dr. Joseph Lowery, for being a living prophet in and beyond United Methodism. Your name added to our statement is deeply appreciated.

Gilbert H. Caldwell, Convenor

Read Affirmation's Response to Bishop Kulah's Sermon.