‘Dr. Howard Thurman wrote: “The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men[people] often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making.”
In times such as the present when dominant, cruel, vile systems of oppression seem almost invincible, I remember the words of Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I’m about to do a new thing . . . Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” The reference is to God’s delivering the covenanted people from oppression to greater wholeness through an untraditional source and in a new way.
This theme of newness is picked up by Walter Brueggemann who says about Jesus: “His ministry evoked a passion and an energy that had disappeared in the old helplessness. Both his adherents and his enemies sensed the same thing: “An unmanaged newness was coming, and it created a future quite different from the one that royal domination intended to permit . . . . In true prophetic form, Jesus’ ministry on earth paved the way for the coming newness by preparing people for that newness. Before opening the way for new life, he first had to equip his people with the imagination to believe in that possibility. He had to create room for wonder and amazement.”
This speaks to us for a number of reasons. One, it points out that we need to do something in order to usher in the new possibility. It is not inevitable. Second, it says that imagination, wonder and amazement are necessary for this newness. We have to lift our eyes, hearts, and mind beyond the ordinary, commonplace, mundane. We need to make room for newness, the unborn, open ourselves to potential carrying seeds of harvest into a borderless future.
The visionary leaders who founded The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples embraced this mystery of life. Dr. Howard Thurman wrote: “The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men[people] often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication, they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.” The deed was establishing Fellowship Church as the nation’s first intentionally interracial, interfaith congregation in 1944. This new thing in church history was a statement against the segregation of churches and a statement for the binding unity of humanity beyond socially imposed barriers. It was a call to search for the common ground of existence in daily living. The founders had no blueprint regarding how to proceed. They trusted life and the newness that was beckoning to them to form a community, a religious fellowship that cut across all lines that divided people.
Can you not see on the horizon what Mrs. Sue Bailey Thurman envisioned, a new day outstripping the great days of the past, a movement even beyond the confines of this nation, a movement subverting dominant power for power that works for all.
— Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All People