Monthly Archives: January 2017

Mis-remembering King


In August of 1966, three years after his “I have a dream speech,” a Gallup poll found that Martin Luther King Jr’s national popularity had fallen to a 63% negative rating.  Only 12% of all Americans registered a “highly favorable” opinion of King.  In the remaining year and a half of his life King would come out strongly against the Vietnam War and expand civil rights to an economic platform.  These controversial calls for radical systemic change cost him more allies.  He was helping mobilize the “Poor People’s Campaign” in Memphis when he was assassinated in April of 1968.

A 2011 national Gallup poll rated King’s favorability at 94% (statistics found in THIS article).

What happened?

Every time the week of MLK day comes around, I can’t help but think that we generally mis-remember King in two significant ways.

The first is the domestication of his message, as evidenced in the poll numbers above.  King had a beautiful dream, but it became increasingly radical and comprehensive the deeper he saw into the soul of the nation.  Such disruption of the status quo is rarely popular.

The second way we mis-remember King is that we exult him as a singularly heroic individual, and fail to recognize the wider movement that elevated his voice, and all the other important voices of the time.  And the small but vital contributions that so many people made simply by showing up, or lending a hand when they were able.  None of us can be the icon King.  This serves to both discourage us for falling short, and relieve us from having to try too hard.

King was no Jesus – his womanizing habits are well-documented – but the way we have mis-remembered King resembles our frequent mis-remembering of Jesus.  We domesticate his message, and we exult him as Savior without living into his invitation to, collectively, become his living presence.  Jesus is Savior precisely because he includes us in the salvation story.

If you need a reason to be troubled by King, an annual reading of his Letter from Birmingham Jail is a good place to start.  If you need a reason to be troubled by Jesus, any of the Gospels will do.

This is all hard stuff.  Let’s not make it harder by falling prey to mis-remembering the complex, living, breathing people who have helped point the way.






2016 at CMC

What a wild, and sometimes tumultuous ride 2016 was.  Before we get too far along in 2017, here’s a snapshot of what happened in the life of this congregation last year.  It was a full year.  We intentionally confronted racism and affirmed that black lives matter.  We did some work on our building.  And we had some fun along the way.  Because of the long list this year I’ve left off a few of the annual regulars.  If you make it all the way to the bottom, congratulations.

+ CRC Kids Club after school program begins meeting in our church basement

+ Winter Seminar on aging with Jep Hostetler and Glen Miller

+ Youth-led worship service features kids of many ages

+ “Trouble the waters” Lent worship theme

+ Serving February breakfasts at the CRC

+ Maundy Thursday service with Jessica Shimberg of the Little Minyan Kehila

+ Easter worship theme “Conversions”

+ Anita Chapman dies, her gifts to us include the song “Love is a beautiful thing”

+ Baby dedications: Luke Schellenberg, Harold Troyer, and Simon Whistle

+ MTSO student Chris Pedersen continues and completes his pastoral internship

+ Began an experiment with new leadership structure, changing the make-up and role of Leadership Team, and enabling Commission chairs to focus on ministry work rather than governance decisions

+ Hosted a lunch/fiesta for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers seeking fair wages from Wendy’s

+ Eleven new members welcomed into the congregation

+ 62 CMCers join over 2000 people of faith at the annual BREAD Nehemiah Action at the Celeste Center

+ Guest worship speakers: Alex Awad talks about his ministry as a Palestinian pastor, Regina Shands Stoltzfus talks about the movement for black lives

+ Sermon interviews/dialogues: Rev Lane Campbell talks about showing up for racial justice, Malik Moore asks us to use privilege to do good, MCC peace educator Jes Buller talks about Colombia and peacemaking in the US

+ Weddings: Hannah Reiser and David Pierre; Thomas Applegate and Jamie Stack; Mark Rupp and Jeremy Alfera

+ High school grads: Sarah Martin, Montgomery Gray, Caleb Lehman

+ Revival of CMC softball team, which even won some games

+ Youth summer service project focuses on local organizations such as the CRC, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, and Community Development for All People

+ We host Central District Conference (CDC) annual meeting, which includes an impromptu dance party at the end of a Mark Rupp sermon

+ CDC conference minister Lois Kaufmann retires, Doug Luginbill hired

+ March in Pride Parade much drier than previous year

+ Two groups of CMC young adults meet with CMCer Linda Mercadante as focus groups for an upcoming book about why young people choose church

+ Pig roast hosted by Jon Nofziger and Katie Graber

+ Vacation Bible School focuses on “Surprise! Discovering stories of Jesus”

+ Joel and Mark join other CDC reps as the conference is “peer reviewed” for licensing Mark as pastor

+ Continuing to serve monthly meals at YWCA

+ The kitchen and sanctuary are remodeled

+ August worship in the fellowship hall of North Broadway United Methodist Church, ending with a joint worship service of Methodists and Mennos

+ Worship at CMC canceled Labor Day weekend, people encouraged to worship at predominantly black congregations

+ Back in the newly renovated building

+ Get your yard signs at church: “Black Lives Matter,” “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor (3 languages)”

+ Annual retreat at Camp Luz includes a visit by Mennonite Church USA Executive Director Ervin Stutzman

+ October worship theme: “A holy movement: from colorblindness to racial consciousness to anti-racism and pro-justice”

+ 20 of us join 20 folks from Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship for a guided tour and conversation at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati

+ Remembering loved ones during annual All Saints/Souls observance

+Ted Swartz performs “Laughter is Sacred Space,” looking at mental health and suicide

+ Advent worship theme: “Drawn to the heart of God”

+ We sign and send a colorful card of blessing to Theda Good on the day she is ordained, the first pastor in Mennonite Church USA married to someone of the same sex to receive ordination

+ At the invitation of a local pastor, CMC children’s Sunday school classes write letters to the family of Tyre King, the 13 year old African American boy shot by a Columbus police officer

+ We host a community “Carol Sing for Justice” on the corner of N. Broadway and High


May the Holy One bless and perturb us along the path of 2017.