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Civil Rights Pioneer Urges Beating Missiles into 'Morsels of Bread'

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  • umcornet
    Saturday, May 1, 2004 Civil Rights Pioneer Urges Beating Missiles into Morsels of Bread By Linda Bloom* PITTSBURGH (UMNS) - The Rev. Joseph Lowery often
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2004
      Saturday, May 1, 2004
      Civil Rights Pioneer Urges Beating Missiles into 'Morsels of Bread'
      By Linda Bloom*

      PITTSBURGH (UMNS) - The Rev. Joseph Lowery often hears people wonder
      these days when the world is going to be "normal" again.

      But, as he told participants at an April 30 dinner sponsored by the
      United Methodist Board of Church and Society, what the world is
      experiencing today is normal - a "new" normal.

      "The challenge to the church is not to like it, but to love it," the
      82-year-old civil rights activist said. "It's not comfort we're
      called to experience, but courage."

      Lowery, a United Methodist pastor, knows a lot about living in a
      turbulent world. Called the dean of the civil rights movement by the
      NAACP and one of the country's 15 greatest black preachers by Ebony
      Magazine, he has been involved in civil rights work since the early
      1950s. Lowery and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. formed the Southern
      Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.

      Because of recent problems with vertigo, Lowery remained seated as he
      quoted Micah 4:3 about beating swords into plowshares and spoke of
      the importance of rivers in African-American culture, about how
      being "down by the riverside" can provide both freedom and escape.

      "The church is called today, I think, to take the nation down by the
      riverside," he said.

      His voice grew stronger and more insistent as he pointed to the
      inequities between rich and poor, categorizing minimum wage and lack
      of health care coverage as "weapons of mass destruction." He
      suggested beating missiles into "morsels of bread" and tanks into
      tractors.

      Lowery considers same-sex marriage to be more of a state than church
      issue but believes "people of faith can differ on this issue and
      respect each other."

      "I'm not an absolutist, but I know this much - I'm going to be on the
      side of inclusiveness, not exclusiveness," he said. After years of
      struggle as an African-American, he explained that he could not
      refuse "to grant to anyone the rights that I enjoy."

      Lowery also expressed his distress over the war and continuing
      problems in Iraq. "Don't we have something better to offer the world
      than swords and missiles and smart bombs on stupid missions?" he
      asked.

      "The God I serve loves the motherless child in Baghdad as much as he
      loves the motherless child in Boston," he declared.

      *Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
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