One of my favorite images the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used in his preaching and public ministry was that of the Beloved Community. He wrote, “Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” The Beloved Community is in its essence a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings.
We remember this MLK weekend that this is our call as people of faith – to build the Beloved Community, or what we sometimes refer to in our Christian context as the Kingdom of God. We are called to be builders – community builders and kingdom builders.
In her 2018 book, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias, social scientist Dolly Chugh talks about the two kinds of people we encounter or who we ourselves actually are, when it comes to this vital work of fighting inequality and racism – builders and believers.
She writes, “Believing in the values of equality is no longer enough. We need to be people with the skills to make it better, the skills of a builder. We need to learn how to fight bias.” Throughout her book she talks about how good people often stop at the “believer” stage, either too afraid or too unaware to be able to do the hard work of being a builder – builders in our families, our communities, our workplaces and our churches. Builders take risks. Builders ask questions and ask for help. Builders give up power and control. Builders disrupt the system.
As a congregation we have been talking about these critical issues since Dr. King himself pushed people of faith (especially white people of faith) and our nation to not only believe in the Beloved Community, but to act to build it. And so the work continues in this critical moment.
As the BMPC Anti-Racism Taskforce continues its work this year, and as we look toward a time – hopefully soon – when we can be physically together as a church, please know that all of the opportunities that are offered, books that are suggested, prayers that are shared and relationships that are cultivated will hopefully point us all to the vital work of being builders of the Beloved Community.