Last Sunday, the fourth annual Evanston Interfaith Community Martin Luther King Worship Service, Jr.
Pastor Michael Nabors of Second Baptist Evanston suggested that the service address the rise in anti-Semitism in the United States and called on the Evanston community to unite to fight against it.
Together with Pastor Daniel Ruen of Grace Lutheran Church, Rev. Eileen Wiviott of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Rev. Charlie de Kay of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church - Evanston, IL, and Tahera Ahmad of Northwestern University, the community committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all hatred and intolerance.
Donations gathered at the service will go to T'ruah, a nonprofit organization that trains and mobilizes a network of 2,000 rabbis and cantors, together with their communities, to bring Jewish values to life through strategic and meaningful action to protect and advance human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.
You can find Pastor Nabors' sermon here.
Pastor Daniel Ruen called the community to action, to join the Evanston community on buses to march on Washington, D.C. with the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. The march will take place on June 20, 2020.
To learn more and register for the march, click here and watch Dear Evanston for more information.
Here's a transcript of Pastor Ruen's full sermon:
The Rev. Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel first met in Chicago at the 1963 conference on “Religion and Race,” organized by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
The bond between them was immediate. King’s speech at the conference, “A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues,” affirmed that the struggle against racism was an interfaith effort:
Dr. King said, ‘The churches and synagogues have an opportunity and a duty to lift up their voices like a trumpet, and declare unto the people the immorality of segregation.’
Rabbi Heschel followed King, and his passionate speech electrified the audience – Cornel West called it the strongest condemnation of racism by a white man since William Lloyd Garrison.
“Racism is Satanism, it is unmitigated evil,” Rabbi Heschel declared.
Rabbi Heschel’s critique extended to religious communities: “We worry more about the purity of our dogma, than about the integrity of love.”
Will you say, Amen to that, please?
The friendship between The Rev. Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel was not confined to speeches and writings: it exploded into interfaith organizing, interfaith political education, and interfaith action.
As we proclaim our solidarity against the rise of anti-semitism today, we likewise remember Dr. King’s and Rabbi Heschel’s paving the way for how we might confront it, and how me might defeat it.
And that path they paved, my beloved community, is bold, cooperative, joyful action together.
Cooperative action on the protest line, cooperative action marching together, cooperative organizing together, cooperative boycotting together, cooperative singing together, and cooperative joy in one another, exemplifying the beloved community that The Rev. Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel saw birthed in their lifetimes.
So, now: now is the time to walk that path. Standing on their shoulders.
Rabbi Andrea, Pastor Michael, and I, are planning on walking in a similar way, in honor of Dr. King’s and Rabbi Heschel’s interfaith bond, by attending the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival 6.20.20 March on Washington, and we want to know:
Are you likewise ready to give feet to your faith?
Are you likewise ready to get on the bus with us?
Are you likewise ready to shake off your fear and anger and embrace cooperative reconciliation, cooperative redemption, cooperative justice-making?
As the Rev. Dr. King wrote, ‘Justice is love in calculation.’
So are you ready to do the numbers of love?
To dust off your calculators of mercy and joy? To open up the excel spreadsheet of your soul and the data collection of your spirits?
June 20th, 2020: It will be a massive, non-violent, broad-based mobilization of justice-seeking, on the eve of our country’s political conventions.
To resurrect Dr. King’s and Marian Wright Edelman’s original Poor People’s Campaign from 1968.
And to shock this country’s weary conscience through connecting the interlocking injustices of racism, poverty, the war economy, environmental devastation, and the false moral narrative of religious and white nationalism.
Now, you all know I’m a Lutheran pastor, but I am not at all averse to having an ‘altar call,’ especially altar calls for interfaith, intercultural action.
Bring down those 6.20.20 flyers, if you please. Give a hand to these Illinois Poor People’s Campaign volunteers. They’re working so hard.
Once you get a flyer, I want you to lay it in your lap, and look up at me. That way, I’ll know you’re ready for the Lutheran Altar Call.
Are you ready? The close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
I call you, now: to the altar of your own heart. I call you to the altar of your troubled conscience. I call you to the altar of your convictions. I call you to the altar of your sleepless nights. I call you to the altar of your pain. I call you to the altar of your despair. I call you to the altar of your oppression, and depression, and self-destruction.
And I dare you to lay down a joyful, hopeful, sacrifice upon it. I dare you to lay down your burdens and awaken to the great call of cooperative, interfaith action that lays at your feet in this moment.
Now: you may open your eyes!
If you came out here on a cold winter day, then maybe you can come a little further with Rabbi Andrea, and Pastor Michael, and I to Washington, D.C. this summer.
It will be decidedly warmer, Amen? And all of us in this room will get to hang out again, sing some more songs, eat some more food, and grow that much closer together in faith, hope, and love.
Take a look at that flyer in your lap, or in your hand. Fill your flyer out. Turn it in at the table at the entrance.
If you can’t fill it out, point your phone camera at the QR code on the other side, and register online.
If you can’t fill it out, and point your phone camera at the QR code on the other side to register online, then take the flyer, and give it to a friend, or a family member.
And/Or: Take the flyer and give it to a person affected by poverty, racism, our endless wars, or environmental devastation, look them in the eye and say,
‘There is hope in our cooperative action! There is a direction of justive, calculated through love! There is solace! There is a beloved community!
Come with us to D.C. to change the moral narrative of our country, we’re getting into step! Everybody In! Nobody Out!’
If you can’t do that, then drop a little money off at the entrance table to help poor and working people get on the bus with us.
Heaven: just drop some money off at the table if you can do all of it, because we need scholarships to get poor and working people on the bus.
If you can’t do any of any of this….then pray for us, Amen? Pray for the Poor People’s Campaign.
Send the info on your prayer networks, speak up about what you experienced today, and help us get to the goal of sending 625 people from Illinois to Washington, D.C. this summer.
This service today….wasn’t just about getting together as a community to hear inspiring, interfaith speeches and wonderful, interfaith music.
This service is just a feast before the festival.
This service is just a little twirl before a much larger tornado.
This service is just a moral reminder, before the moral revolution.
We march, we act, we cooperate, we dream, we struggle, we fight, we love…..
because those who came before us did the very same, and they had us in mind as the reason for why they sacrificed so much.
We are their beloved children who they feared for. We are the beloved children who they hoped for. We are the beloved children who they suffered for and who many of them died for.
God, give us strength to do the same for our own children with joy, with love, and with courage.
Thank you, beloved assembly of Interfaith Evanston!
Thanks be to God for you, and I will hope and pray, to see you on the bus!