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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Moral Revival makes a stop in Louisville

Barber, Forbes challenges Christians to vote for just government

The Rev. Dr. William Barber II preaches at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville during the October 4 ‘Moral Revival’. The Rev. Dr. James Forbes is seated, wearing stole. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

The Rev. Dr. William Barber II preaches at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville during the October 4 ‘Moral Revival’. The Rev. Dr. James Forbes is seated, wearing stole. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

November 2, 2016

The Moral Revival made its latest stop on a 20-city tour at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., on October 4. In collaboration with the Kentucky Council of Churches, headed by PC(USA) minister the Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds, and local ministries, the Rev. Dr. William Barber II brought his message of moral governance based on Christian values to the city, urging clergy to preach on and act for just policies in the city and state.

Likening the current political system to a failing heart, Barber said before a heart attack there are many noticeable contributing factors and listed the three ailments that he sees in the U.S.

“Heretical Theological Disorder,” said Barber, is the cooption of Christians by a right-leaning political agenda that doesn’t consider the poor or needy, and fails to see people as deserving of equal rights. Continuing a litany of social woes caused by such policies, and deeming them un-Christian, he said white evangelical Christians have the most to gain by such policies, enforcing racism and classism in order to maintain their status.

“Inconsistent and Irregular Constitutional Arrhythmia” was the second of Barber’s political disorders. Reading the Constitution, he challenged listeners to consider what “We the people” really means in light of existing and proposed exclusionary policies against people of color, immigrants and varied sexual orientations. Saying the writers of the Constitution were humble enough to admit they were on the way to creating “a more perfect union,” he warned, “If you can’t repent, you’re not constitutionally fit to hold office.”

Barber’s final ailment of the political system was “Serious Septic Systemic Racism,” which he said was a threat to all people, and he said it is the only explanation as to why those who have the most to gain from government social programs often vote against their own interests. “The problem with racism today is not with the people in hoods, it’s with those in suits,” he said.

The Rev. Dr. James Forbes, retired pastor of The Riverside Church in New York City and a long-time social justice advocate, preached on a theme of God’s continued revelation. Just as Peter had his mind changed in the biblical book of Acts regarding what was considered clean and unclean in the Jewish dietary system, Forbes repeated the refrain “the Holy Ghost has a way of doing a thing” to disrupt prejudices.

“Vote, protest, go to jail, voice your discontent, sign a petition, contribute to a cause, commit acts of kindness, write a letter to your elected officials, write a letter to the editor,” he said, encouraging attendees to be part of the solution to injustices.

The service included testimonies from several local people who have been affected by policies specific to Kentucky on which the revival encouraged action. Issues included felony voting rights, the proposed end of Medicaid expansion, healthcare options for the poor, predatory payday lending practices, environmental racism, economic injustice, gun violence and common sense gun laws.

Clergy gather at the front of the sanctuary at St. Stephen Baptist church during the October 4 ‘Moral Revival’ committing to preach and act on Christian moral principles. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

Clergy gather at the front of the sanctuary at St. Stephen Baptist church during the October 4 ‘Moral Revival’ committing to preach and act on Christian moral principles. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

At the conclusion of the service Barber invited pastors, rabbis and imams to the front of the church, asking them to preach messages of religious justice principles to their congregations and encouraging them to invite others to share their testimonies of how they have been harmed by unjust policies.

The Moral Revival continues its tour, making stops in Minneapolis, Minn.; Charleston, S.C.; and Milwaukee, Wis. prior to the U.S. elections on November 8.

Gregg Brekke, Report for Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Moral Revival

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Sy Hughes, PMA
Rhashell Hunter, PMA

Let us pray

Most gracious God we give you thanks for all that we have. Teach us to see the needs of our neighbors and guide us in ways to be helpful. We seek your help to multiply the resources of those who struggle daily to meet the needs of their families. It is your power that can overcome the challenges. Amen.

Daily Lectionary