“We are gathered where Martin Luther King Jr. preached the last Sunday sermon of his life, urging us to stay awake in the light of stained glass windows,” said the Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington and interim dean of Washington National Cathedral. The controversial windows, she said, “glorify a way of life that was sustained by chattel slavery and even now demands that we take account of what resources churches like ours was built on.” The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, the cathedral’s canon theologian, honed in on why the “white church” was being singled out. “Why not just ‘the church,’ ” she asked? “You say white racism is a sin. Why colorize it?” Wallis, who is white, chimed in: “If white Christians acted more Christian than white, black parents would have less reason to fear for their children. That’s a fact.” He paraphrased a verse in the book of Corinthians that says when one part of the body of Christ hurts, all of the body feels the pain. “Not happening,” Wallis said. “When the black part of the body hurts, the white part doesn’t know what’s happening most of the time.” The discussion was prompted by a sermon given last year by the Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor at Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md. The sermon was a resurrection of themes from King’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Sent to eight white ministers, the letter said King had “almost reached the regrettable conclusion” that the Ku Klux Klan was not the greatest stumbling block to black freedom; it was white moderates who were more devoted to order than to justice.

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