By Lindsay Bruehl
Friendship-West Baptist Church and Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas hosted their third annual “A King Teach In” at Friendship-West Baptist. This is part of our covenantal relationship, formed in part with help from New Baptist Covenant, to work together for racial justice. Our churches are not settling for “kumbaya” moments by swapping pulpits periodically only to return to an unchanged world. Each year the format is similar, but the message keeps expanding as we speak to our place and time.
The first year, Rev. Dr. Freddy Haynes, pastor of Friendship-West, gave us a history lesson on who Martin Luther King Jr. really was. We have him frozen in time as a dreamer, but he was a drum major for justice. This was also the 50th year of Martin Luther King’s murder, and Dr. Haynes mentioned the irony of Gov. Greg Abbott, with his racist policies, being the Grand Marshal of the MLK Parade.
Rev. Dr. George Mason, pastor of Wilshire, talked about white supremacy and the need for racial justice. He said there is no racial reconciliation when there has never been justice. During the question and answer time, a woman from Friendship-West wanted to know how he was received at Wilshire delivering a message like this. Later, she hugged me for being associated with a predominately white church that doesn’t ignore the sin of white supremacy.
Rev. Dr. William Barber says the job of a minister is to touch what hurts, and this is what is happening at each and every King Teach In.
The second year, the focus was on Martin Luther King’s message: “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Dr. Haynes talked about how black and brown bodies are exploited all over the world. He urged us as we vacation to be mindful of what we purchase because cheap prices are the result of exploited labor.
The previous year Dr Mason touched the pain of one of Friendship-West’s members, and this year Dr. Haynes heard the pain of a Wilshire member. In the question and answer time, a single mom of three and a school teacher asked how she could help exploited people locally since she is unable financially to take vacations. Dr. Haynes response was to ask us if this is the world we want to live in — the kind in which a school teacher can’t take a vacation?
This demonstrates the work that Wilshire and Friendship-West are doing together. We are talking about systemic and global problems, but we are also hearing each other.
This year, in 2020, we included the lives of those at the border, LGBTQ+ persons and women — especially women of color. These are lives that are also dehumanized through policies and systems in our country. We were urged to recognize every area in which we are privileged and use it to lift someone up, not to feed “the empire.”
It was also a time for us to hear how our war economy is dulling our consciences. “We cannot murder hate,” said Dr. King in a video in which he lamented war, and how it gets in the way of justice:
Even though we are talking about tough issues, and we lament and repent for all the ways we have been complicit, something else is happening too. We are becoming friends. We are transcending the impossibility of the moment with love and hope
— Lindsay Bruehl is a member of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas.