Inter-Faith Relations Dept. Chair Fr. Olof Scott Attends CCT Annual Meeting
Memphis, TN (CCT)--Christian Churches Together in the USA has completed its sixth annual meeting (February 14-17, 2012) in Memphis, Tennessee. Some 85 church and organizational leaders (representing 36 African American, Catholic, Historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and Orthodox churches and 6 Christian organizations: American Bible Society, Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, Habitat For Humanity, Sojourners and World Vision) met to discern together how CCT should respond to racism and poverty now.
V. Rev. Olof Scott, the Chair of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Faith Relations and Dean of the St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, attended the 2012 Annual Meeting.
A joint statement released at the gathering's conclusion, "One in Christ for the Sake of All," responds to the question: How might the Holy Spirit use the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, to help the church live the Gospel more fully and proclaim it more faithfully?The participants visited the National Civil Rights Museum/Lorraine Motel (site of Dr. King’s martyrdom), Slave Haven Museum (an Underground Railroad safe house), and the historic Mason Temple where Dr. King delivered his “Mountain Top” speech.
Participants heard an inspiring sermon from Bishop Claire Burkat (ELCA) at the beginning of the meeting. Dr. Bernard LaFayette (co-founder of SNCC and Freedom Rider), presented the non-violent underpinnings of Dr. King’s movement. Dr. Albert Raboteau (Princeton) provided insight into the Biblical foundations of Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail." Dr. Virgil Wood (Virginia organizer for the Washington March), challenged the church to go beyond equality to seek equity. David Beckmann (Bread for the World) brought good news regarding the success of the Circle of Protection designed to protect the “safety net” for the poorest Americans. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson (PCUSA) challenged his listeners to understand the bigoted underpinnings of much of the current political rhetoric. Dr. Frank Thomas (Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church, Disciples of Christ), brought a challenge to true sacrifice in the face of the current economic inequities. Together, the attendees worshiped, experienced, related and sought to better understand and more effectively organize to combat racism and poverty in America.
During the week, there were reports heard from those who had participated in the Sankofa Journey, sponsored by the Evangelical Covenant Church, which pairs riders of different races and ethnicities on a three day bus trip from Chicago to Birmingham, Montgomery, Jackson, Memphis and back to Chicago. The time on the bus between historical sites of the civil rights movement is spent in dialogue and viewing video resources. As one participant, Wendy McFadden of the Church of the Brethren, reported, “It was a journey to the past that begins to free us to move forward together. And that is what Sankofa means.”