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Politics and Church

251. Politics and Church

Some years ago while attending the conference “Women and the Word” at Boston School of Theology, I was privileged to hear Leontyne Kelly preach. She was the first African American woman to become bishop and she held me captive whenever she spoke.

Over and over again in my life in the church (mostly United Methodist) as I have been a part of committees working for justice and social change, the charge has been “You’re getting too political,” and each time I respond by telling this story which I heard told in Boston by Bishop Kelly.

Before she was a bishop, she served a church in Virginia and as part of her community concern she ran for the local school board and won. One day as she walked to the church, a man stopped her and asked, “Are you the pastor of that church?” (as he pointed to the church). “Well, yes, I am,” she said as she paused to talk with him. “Well, I just want you to know that you’re getting too political and pastors of churches shouldn’t do that.” She thought for a minute and then looked at him and said, “Well, you know, I think back to the Old Testament when God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell Pharaoh to ‘let my people go.’ Now you just don’t get much more political than that!”

 

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