Thursday, January 23, 2020

Letter from the Bishop during the Civil Rights Movement

I have a gift from the family of the late Rev. Talmadge Clayton that has now taken up permanent residence in my study.

It was written by Kenneth Goodson, the resident bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church. I did have the fortune of meeting him at a dear friend's wedding before he died, but this letter comes from a time before my time. It's a letter expressing support for voting rights of African Americans during a time when it was quite controversial in Alabama. I include the postal stamp in the display case because it reminds me that this was mailed to the members of the Annual Conference the very month I was born, April of 1965. For those of you with a keen sense of history, you may know that this was just a few weeks after the March from Selma to Montgomery by those who believed in the constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.

I will keep this on the wall in my study and read it from time to time. It gives me hope that the church always has, and always will, endure trying times for the sake of the truth of the gospel and the purity of love. In many ways we have come a long way, and yet history repeats itself and we have a long way to go. We are on the road to perfection, as John Wesley would say. Notice that I keep his bust close by.