President Barack Obama has used the phrase, “better angels of our nature” from Abraham Lincoln’s First Inauguraral Address to describe his hope for all Americans. As my small contribution to this new moment in American history; in every speech, lecture, sermon I give this year, I will include these words of Lincoln spoken, March 4, 1861:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained our bonds of affection, the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Whether in my talks about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, my lectures during February’s Black History Month, or talks and discussions about the humanity and human rights of LGBT persons, I will remind myself and others of “The Better Angels of our Nature.”

Rev. Gil Caldwell

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Asbury Park, N.J. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation. In 2000, he, with others, organized the RMN Extension ministry United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), an organization committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in every aspect of church and society. His recent book, Something Within: Works by Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is available from Church Within A Church. Gil's advocacy efforts were also featured in the film "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?" Learn more at

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