Rev. Gil Caldwell reflects on his experience preaching on Sunday, June 28th, at Asbury UM Church in Atlantic City:

What happened at Asbury United Methodist Church in Atlantic City on Sunday should not ‘stay in’ Asbury or Atlantic City.

Call and Response in the Black Church takes place in many ways. Rather than preach a monologue sermon, I sought to allow music and my words to capture what I thought God wanted us to be and do in the service.

Two events, hovered over our time together.

The killing of the Pastor and 8 members of the congregation of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and the same-sex marriage decision of “The Supremes.” I believe that any church that did not mention Charleston on Sunday June 21st, and the marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court on Sunday June 28th, suggested that that church did not view Blacks and/or LGBTQ people as being family.

A church may not “like” Blacks or LGBTQ people, but it has an obligation to “love” them, and love means that when they are in sorrow or in joy, they must be remembered!

Although some may not know or want to know our names, because of who we are or whom we love, there is a “Somebody” who knows us, that makes all of the difference in the world. Preachers, when we get ordained, have somebody “lay hands on us,” but whether we are preachers or lay people, “It don’t mean a thing” if the imprint of the God of Abraham, Jesus, Sojourner, Harriet, Martin and Malcolm is not on us in ways that shape what we say and do.

Too many of us hide the light God has give us under a bushel where it is not seen and in time goes out.

No matter the gender identity, race, or sexual orientation of the one who has a God-given light, it must shine for others to see it. We cannot become “Wounded Healers” (Henri Nouwen) if we do not know that we have access to a healing balm that has been laid on us, not by humans, but by the One beyond humanity.

I believe that churches like Asbury in Atlantic City, that are about bold, brave and bodacious ministry, but who have financial challenges, ought be able to be in life and community transforming ministry, with the support of non-members who understand the wisdom of investing in churches that serve the poor and the not-so-poor, and are inclusive in their response to all people, regardless of their status.

The billions that have been and will be spent on the presidential campaigns, would make a little more sense, if some of that money was invested in Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Ethical Culture Societys that day by day seek to discover and enable and empower the better angels that are buried deep within all of us.

“What’s Love Got To Do With It?,” Tina Turned asked. I respond “Love has everything to do with it.” Love is of and from God. Asbury Church experienced some of God’s love, on Sunday, June 28th.

May that love make us family, because in God’s eyes, we already are!

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 truthinprogress.com

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