Day 2: Sunday, June 14 (by Cynthia Wells)

June 15th, 2015

I’m struck by how deeply the modern civil rights movement was impacted by Christian faith. I knew that it was important, but this tour has already given me a much, much deeper appreciation of the centrality of Christian faith in sparking and sustaining the movement and its leaders.  Having read Letter from Birmingham Jail over the years, I witnessed in that text how learned and Christian were King’s ideas. Visiting the King Center today deepened this insight.

Martin, as he is consistently referred to by friends and family, was raised by a minister and spent his upbringing listening to his father’s sermons. Martin memorized Scripture as a child so consistently that the convictions of Christian faith simply permeate his ideas. Sometimes we are encouraged to step back and consider how our ideas align with our Christian faith; I don’t imagine that Martin ever wondered. His life was so shaped by the ideals of his faith that his work could not help but be imbued with Christian conviction. Meeting Juanita Abernathy this afternoon confirmed the role of Christian faith.  Her involvement in the Montgomery Improvement Association and the broader movement came from her identity as one who long loved Jesus and desired to live out the ideals of Christian faith.

I’m convinced that Christian faith is key to the ongoing work in reconciliation.  I’m convicted that my own journey must be grounded in Scripture, and that my son’s understanding of this movement as extending from Christian faith is something he must understand, and something that he won’t gain in public school.  It will be up to home and to church to pass on this message.  How we will live up to that call?

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