Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
In January, we pause to remember and give thanks for the life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. We gather as congregations and communities, with faithful friends and strangers to ponder again the life of a man dedicated to building a beloved community. I invite you to reflect with me on what changes are required in our souls and lives for us to build and be a beloved community.
What changes do you and I need to make that will allow us to accept and celebrate fully the message of Jesus Christ that God created, loves, affirms, accepts, and celebrates every person?
What will need to change in our lives for others to experience this acceptance from us? Is it the words we use to describe “others” that must change? Is it the tendency to look at the world as “them vs. us,” or to categorize and prejudge people based on our own preconceived ideas without listening to their stories and struggles?
Can my soul be open, can our soul as the United Methodist Church be open, to recognize and celebrate that God’s children will not all look or act like I look and act? Will the changes I make, the changes we make, allow others to hear and believe that they are as included in God’s grace as I am, or as we are?
What am I doing to build beloved community? What are you doing? What can we do together?
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).