Social Justice




Excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered  on Aug. 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. King called for an end to racism in the United States and called for civil and economic rights.

I have a dream today … I have a dream that one day
every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain
shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain,
and the crooked places will be made straight…And the
glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see
it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I
go back to the South with. With this faith we will be
able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of
hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the
jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony
of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work
together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to
jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing
that we will be free one day.

By Loretta Fulton

Several hundred Abilenians of all races joined together Monday to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s foremost civil rights activist who was assassinated on April 3, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

The march across the MLK Jr. bridge on Abilene’s east side is held annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King, a Baptist minister, was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, and the MLK Jr. holiday is held each year on the Monday closest to that date.

Monday’s event got under way with talks by several people, including Mayor Anthony Williams, Abilene’s first African-American mayor.

“I want to encourage you to do your part to help fulfill the dream,” Williams told the assembled crowd just before they set out on the march. “Let’s all work together to make Abilene better.”

Dustin Tatro, who is a DJ for KGNZ Christian radio station and organist at St. Paul United Methodist Church, offered a prayer: “Give us, God, the courage to always be warriors for justice,” he said.

Nelson Wilson and others praised the late Claudie Royals, who died in 2008, for being the prime mover behind the march. Before Royals got involved, separate functions were held each year to observe the holiday, Wilson said. Now, everyone comes together.

“Here we are today for this gathering,” he said.

Iziar Lankford, pastor of Southwest Drive Community United Methodist Church, also cited Royals’ efforts. Lankford prayed that all Abilenians would work together for a better city. And, then he ended his prayer in a way that is tradition among African-American ministers.

“Let us all say, ‘Amen,'” he implored.

And they did.




TaylorFieldHSUChapel (1)
Taylor Field, pastor and director of Graffiti Church in New York City, speaks to Hardin-Simmons University students Sept. 26. Photo by Loretta Fulton

By Loretta Fulton

The advice Taylor Field heard from a chapel speaker once while he was in college was so powerful, Field shared it with other students in a similar chapel service more than 40 years later.

“Find the thing that makes your heart sing,” was the advice Field heard as a student in the 1970s at Wake Forest University.  He shared it in a chapel service with Hardin-Simmons University students while on a trip to Dallas and Abilene to visit with partner churches, including Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.

For Field, that thing that makes his heart sing is serving as pastor and director of Graffiti Church on the lower east side of New York City. Once in the middle of a drug-infested, deteriorating neighborhood, Graffiti Church has transformed the area and the people it has been serving for more than 30 years.


Dallas Broekhuizen, a junior from Georgetown, visits with Taylor Field at Hardin-Simmons University Sept. 26. Broekhuizen interned with at Field’s Graffiti Church in New York City after his freshman year at HSU. Photo by Loretta Fulton

Field spoke during the morning chapel service Sept. 26 and again that evening as a guest of Baptist Student Ministries. After the evening talk in Logsdon Chapel, Field visited with students and answered questions from those who are interested in volunteering at the ministry.

Whether they are able to intern at Field’s church or not, they certainly were inspired for service. In the morning chapel service, Field talked about the destructive power of envy. He told a story of two shopkeepers who despised and envied each other.

In the story, God tells one that he will give him anything he wants, but with a warning.

“Whatever you want, I’m going to give twice as much to your neighbor.”

The man’s response was astonishing because it shows just how destructive envy can be.

“Make me blind in one eye,” the shopkeeper said, understanding that the request would result in the other man’s total blindness. That is the blinding power of envy.

“Who should we envy and why?” Field asked. “Our envy of others devours us most of all.”

At the evening service, Field talked about Graffiti Church, where he has served since 1986. Today, there are five Graffiti Churches in the city. The church serves by following five principles, Field said.

  1. Meet the need first
  2. Serve the unserved
  3. See the unseen
  4. Remember that “small is big”

“We never bring God to anyone,” Field reminded. “God’s already there.”

In the morning chapel service, Field urged the students to listen to the voice of God within them, calling them to do what makes their heart sing. If that thing is service, even in an unknown place like the Manhattan’s lower east side, it’s worth responding to that voice.

“A ship is safe in the harbor,” Field reminded, “but that is not what a ship is made for.”



Add your voice to those speaking out against hatred and violence


People of faith all over the country are speaking out against the bigotry and hatred that ended in death in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. If you would like to add your comments, thoughts, reflections, please send to And, please attach a photo of yourself. Below are submissions from Jacob Snowden, president of the Abilene Interfaith Council, and Jen Rogers, a counselor with the International Rescue Committee and a social activist.


Jacob Snowden

President, Abilene Interfaith Council

The events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, are deeply disturbing and saddening. The rally to “unite the right,” summoning white supremacist groups around the monuments of civil war figures, is indicative of a desire to celebrate and retain a history of racial violence and division. The Abilene Interfaith Council condemns the bigotry, hatred, and division represented by the events of this past weekend. Furthermore, we will continue to promote understanding and peace for the diverse people of Abilene and the Big Country regardless of religion and race. While we are confronted with the injury of the weekend, we pray for greater unity and compassion for our future.


Jen Rogers

The emboldened racism on the streets of Charlottesville should both appall us and cause us to look within ourselves and our communities. It should lead us into response in our homes, work, and places of worship. It should cause us to bring and be light to shine in the darkness, to call out hate, and to be agents of peace and reconciliation. It should ask to to genuinely reflect on the ways we, even if unintentionally, contribute to racism in our communities. It calls us all to be active participants in fighting hate and racism. We cannot assume that this is a problem outside of ourselves and our community. Instead, we should be committed to address this in all of our circles of life. It may mean that we call out people we love or stop jokes and snide comments. It may mean that we get to know people in our community outside our spheres of influence. There are a million things it could mean. But if we ignore it or remain silent, we allow it to grow and we condone it by our inactivity.


Don Wilson

Pastor, First Christian Church

The hate-filled, sinful actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virgina, have me thinking of a Christian martyr who once said to a persecuting king, “You may deal us many fierce blows O King, but you must remember that the Church of Jesus Christ is an anvil that has outworn many a hammer.” So may the power of love outlast every blow that hatred and bigotry flings against it. Even more, may love shout even louder for justice, dignity and peace.


Cliff Stewart

Pastor, First Central Presbyterian Church

“I have freed a thousand slaves, but I could have freed a thousand more if they knew they were slaves.”—Underground railroader Harriet Tubman

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Heather Heyer’s last post on Facebook before being murdered in Charlottesville on Saturday.

As a pastor in our Abilene community, I want to reflect on the disturbing rise of racial violence and tension that has come once again to our awareness in the recent clash of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A young student in our church emailed me on Saturday evening asking me to include Charlottesville in our pastoral prayers on Sunday morning. Of course, I said yes. When I saw the student who requested this after church I thanked him for his asking. He said he had been on Twitter after the violent confrontation between protesting white nationalists and those who were standing up against these racist protestations. The buzz around Twitter was how important it was that pastors all around the country say something in our Sunday services about our concern.

Many of us (myself included) are woefully ignorant of the evil dynamic of racism that permeates the world around us. If I only had been aware of how badly others have been treated I would have said something sooner. I had not earlier but now I am speaking.

I urge citizens of good conscience to arise and call our nation to assess and address the rising tide of injustice. I pray that God will open our eyes to the unfair mistreatment of human beings who deserve equal rights with those who are “privileged’ in our society. Let us stand together for liberty and justice for all.


Mary Glover

Rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Good people of St. Mark’s: We must–strongly and courageously–condemn and oppose the views, rhetoric, and actions of those who claim allegiance to the KKK, the fascist and neo-Nazi groups, the white supremacists, the “alt-right,” and, especially those who claim Christianity as an ally in their hateful and violent actions.

“Blessed are the peace makers,” Jesus says. That peace-making cannot be achieved while standing back, remaining silent and afraid. Prayer is a place to begin… prayer changes us. Let us find strength and courage with and from each other in order to stand up for our brothers and sisters who are subjected to hate and inequality and harassment.

Let us rely on one another to know that we do not speak alone when we speak out against the hateful words of others. Do not needlessly put yourself in harm’s way, but let us pledge together to stand up for love, to stand up for inclusion and broadening relationships, and to carry God’s message of welcome, reconciliation, tender mercies, companionship, and solidarity to those who are being taunted, shamed, and, in too many cases, injured. They will know we are Christians by one thing alone… by our love.

Pastor, St. Paul United Methodist Church

MLK Jr. said  “we must learn to except finite disappointment but NEVER lose infinite hope.” Today I was disappointed again. Disappointed that an American would take a car and turn it into a weapon on unarmed Americans killing people and leaving over 30 injured. I am disappointed that in 2017 we still have to mobilize, lock arms, and walk in the streets of Virginia to defend the innocent, to tell others that racism is evil and that everybody matters. Today we not only got a black eye as a country we got knocked to the canvas.

It Is my prayer that everyone who abhors racism and bigotry and believes in the power of God , will bow their knees tonight and cry out for justice and mercy to end this sickening cycle of violence. ”

Lord, help us. Lord , have mercy on us. Lord, hear our prayers and destroy this stronghold of incivility and hate. Our only hope is in you. Amen.”

Additionally, I pray that each of you will make a point to speak to someone, your elected officials, your spiritual leaders, your community movers and shakers, your Congress person, and let them know that this type of violent behavior can not and will not be tolerated in our own local communities. We have come too far to turn back now. Please seek peace!!



Brett Banks

McMurry University student

“Having taken a Civil Rights tour class wherein I traveled all over the South to learn about a movement that helped change America for the better, I feel like what recently happened in Charlottesville didn’t take us back in time like so many people are saying. The racism that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought is still very much alive and well. I think as a college student I am called to help make sure, using the privilege I have, that this is not the picture of the future for my kids or my grandkids.”



Jonathan Storment


(Editor’s Note: Jonathan Storment’s blog first appeared on the Patheos website,

Minister, Highland Church of Christ

Nobody thinks they’re a racist.

Have you ever noticed that? In the social media bubbles of our own making, the echo chambers of our design we can safely assume that we are able to love everyone.

Even some of the people who marched under Nazi flags chanting “You will not replace us” this weekend, when their identity was outed online wanted to make sure the world knew “I’m not the angry racist I appear to be in those pictures.”

And while that kind of deceit is easy to see at a distance, I believe we are all engaged in a level of self-deceit…especially when it comes to this.

It’s only when you have to spend time around the people you would just as assume avoid that you discover the more nasty bits of truth about yourself, and it’s only when you discover those truths that you’re able to truly act on and resist them.

Over the weekend, as I watched the images of the angry white men marching with Tiki torches in Charlottsville one thought kept going through my head.

I have way more in common with them them than I’d like to admit.  (more…)