A Prayer for Monday

Lord Jesus, our true Sovereign, we give thanks for Egypt. Even though the rulers of Egypt were not expecting a Jewish Messiah, they did not turn your Holy Family away and welcomed them when they fled King Herod’s wrath.​ Welcoming Savior of the nations, we give thanks that your Holy Family received the Magi from the East, welcoming their gifts. We give thanks that the Magi risked crossing many borders to get to the babe of Bethlehem, and there to be the first to worship him, even though they had neither the language nor the scriptures as their guide. Thank you for emboldening the Magi to disobey cruel Herod’s executive order.

​Gracious Christ, we give thanks that in your earthly ministry you never turned anybody away, not even us, in our sin. We praise you for emboldening others to cross our borders in order to give us the good news that we were included in your salvation, even though our ways and our language were foreign to the gospel.  

​Forgive us when we sinned against Matthew 28:19, stayed comfortably at home, refused your order to immigrate into all the world, making disciples in your name.

​Especially this day we pray for your work in the hearts and minds of the agents of Homeland Security, Border Control officers, and U. S. Customs personnel, particularly those who are trying to follow you. Give them the courage to be not only obedient to the government that pays them but also faithful to the Savior who gave his life for them and the whole world. Enable them to be kind. Put in their minds Acts 5:29, and give them courage to do speak up and to do right in this dark hour.

​Forgive government officials who order others to do wrong, who perform cruel acts against others under the guise of service to their country. And forgive us for giving power to those who promise us false security and safety, giving them the authority that belongs only to you.

​We confess that we have limited the expanse of your Kingdom to our merely human borders. We have been content to narrow the scope of your church to people who look like us. We admit that we have regarded people who speak other languages, who practice other faiths, and dwell in other nations as threats rather than as your cherished children, our sisters and brothers in Christ.

​Lord who is gracious to the suffering, the homeless, and the persecuted, to those who must leave the places they love and venture forth like the Holy Family, be gracious unto us, even in our sin against your expansive salvation.

​Soften hardened hearts. Go ahead and judge us and chastise us as you will. Force us to live up to our convictions and to welcome others as you have welcomed us.

Please, dear Lord, save our leaders (whom we elected) from following the way of Herod. Amen.

Racism: A Peculiarly American Sin

willie_earle_cover

During February Abingdon Press will publish my, Who Lynched Earle?  Preaching to Confront Racism.  The book is a “labor of love,” a tragedy that has captured my imagination over a lifetime, a topic that has been one of my major concerns. 

Who Lynched Earle? opens with a lynching in my hometown when I was one year old.  After the lynching, a young Methodist preacher, Hawley Lynn, preached a courageous, historic sermon to his all white congregation in the South Carolina town where the lynching occurred.  I move from a narrative of that great sermon to an appeal to white preachers like me to preach to their mostly white congregations about the sin of racism. 

We are having a day-long conference with scholars, bishops, and students at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. on February 17 (seventieth anniversary of the lynching of Willie Earle) to talk about the book and its concerns. 

 For the next few weeks, I’ll be running excerpts from Who Lynched Earle?

Continue reading

“Who Lynched Willie Earle?” Conference at Wofford College

SPARTANBURG, S.C.Wofford College will host a conference on South Carolina’s last lynching, the subsequent trial, a courageous sermon and the continuing challenge of preaching to confront racist. The Feb. 17 event will feature the launch of the book “Who Lynched Willie Earle: Preaching to Confront Racism,” written by Dr. Will Willimon, a 1968 Wofford graduate and retired United Methodist bishop. Continue reading

Lord, Forgive Us the Sin of Patience

This post originally appeared with Religion News Service. Please note that Bishop Willimon will also be speaking at the MLK Jr Day Celebration in Ferguson, Missouri.


December 1955, Holt Street Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala.

That day, a courageous community activist, Rosa Parks, had been forced off a city bus and jailed.

That night, a hurt, angry crowd of people gathered at Holt Street to discuss the situation.

Speakers noted that what happened that day was simply the way things were done in Montgomery. Racial segregation and white supremacy controlled every aspect of Alabama life. What could anybody do with a man like Big Jim Folsom in charge of the state? Face facts, prominent clergy and laity said as they shook their heads, clenched their fists and lamented.

Then someone turned to the new young preacher in town, fresh from a great run at Morehouse and Boston University, and asked him to say a word. Continue reading

Christian Talk about the Sin of Racism

willie_earle_cover

During February Abingdon Press will publish my, Who Lynched Earle?  Preaching to Confront Racism.  The book is a “labor of love,” a tragedy that has captured my imagination over a lifetime, a topic that has been one of my major concerns. 

Who Lynched Earle? opens with a lynching in my hometown when I was one year old.  After the lynching, a young Methodist preacher, Hawley Lynn, preached a courageous, historic sermon to his all white congregation in the South Carolina town where the lynching occurred.  I move from a narrative of that great sermon to an appeal to white preachers like me to preach to their mostly white congregations about the sin of racism. 

We are having a day-long conference with scholars, bishops, and students at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. on February 17 (seventieth anniversary of the lynching of Willie Earle) to talk about the book and its concerns. 

 For the next few weeks, I’ll be running excerpts from Who Lynched Earle?

Continue reading

Willimon to Lead M.L. King Celebration in Ferguson, Missouri

wellspring_mlk_celebrationProfessor Will Willimon will be the keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King Jr Day commemoration in Ferguson Missouri.  The day includes a morning gathering for students, middle school and above and an afternoon in which Willimon will lead local clergy in strategizing to promote Christian conversation about race in their churches.  The day will conclude with a community-wide service at 6:30 pm in which Willimon will speak.

The day is being sponsored by two dynamic, multicultural congregations, Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri  and The Gathering in Clayton, Missouri in partnership with The Walker Leadership Institute at Eden Theological Seminary.

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss issues of justice in order to prepare to commit acts of justice. Will Willimon, retired Bishop and professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School is one of America’s most influential mainline Protestantism preachers. A white Southerner who describes himself as a “recovering racist,” Willimon is a frequent collaborator of Theologian Stanley Hauerwas. His 2016 release, Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love, is regarded as an essential book for Christians called to love others, even when we see the world in very different ways.  Next month, Abingdon Press will publish Willimon’s Who Lynched Willie Earle: Preaching to Confront Racism.

A series of community dialogues are being held across St. Louis in people’s homes and centers of worship in order to prepare for the public events.  Dr. Willis Johnson, whose book, Holding Up Your Corner, has been hailed by Willimon as one of the most useful and challenging resources for congregations that want to hold fruitful conversations about our racial and cultural divides.

More information and registration are available at WellspringChurchSTL@gmail.com.