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Bishop Nicholas Participates in Historic Ecumenical Gathering

Bp. Nicholas with other participants in CCT eventBp. Nicholas with other participants in CCT eventOn Monday, April 15, 2013, leaders of member churches and organizations of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. (CCT) gathered in Birmingham, AL to attend a symposium on racism. The Right Rev. Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn represented the Antiochian Archdiocese, and was joined by other Orthodox dignitaries, including His Beatitude The Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

The meeting date coincided with the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Letter from Birmingham Jail. Dr. King’s letter was written in 1963 in response to eight Alabama clergyman who cautioned restraint regarding the civil rights demonstrations.  The conference took place at Saint Paul Methodist Church, a center of civil rights activity in the 1960s. In the same neighborhood, the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1965, killing four girls and wounding many others.

Dr. Dorothy Cotton and Dr. Virgil Wood, veteran civil rights activists, addressed the group, and prayers were offered in Kelly Ingram Park, whereMet. Tikhon, Bp. Ephraim (Syrian Church) and Bp. Nicholas before prayer walk in Kelly Ingram ParkMet. Tikhon, Bp. Ephraim (Syrian Church) and Bp. Nicholas before prayer walk in Kelly Ingram Park violence against civil rights demonstrators (including hundreds of children), took place in 1963. Participants signed CCT’s response to Dr. King’s"Letter From Birmingham Jail," which was then presented to Dr. Bernice King—Dr. King’s youngest child, born 19 days before he was jailed in Birmingham. Dr. King spoke movingly about her parents and the ongoing work to promote non-violent social change.

As part of the symposium the gathered leaders signed a document entitled “A Response to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It was produced by a group representing all five families within CCT (Catholic, Orthodox, Historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and Historic Black Churches) over the past two years.