He managed to maintain political neutrality while still celebrating the historic victory for civil rights in our country that the inauguration of our first African-American President represents! He brought a Danish family Bible, printed in 1724, and passed down to him through his father. Beginning in that era, when many were making fortunes in the slave trade he examined the historic struggles of black peoples not only in America but throughout many countries that permitted slavery. He was proud that in 1792 Denmark was the first to outlaw slavery, but lamented that it took so long to implement the law.
He spoke of how Christians could read the Bible and even use portions of it to support the continued oppression of slaves. He told the story of John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, who had a slave ship even as he became a Christian, but eventually came to see it's horror.
He made it clear that each one of us, including himself, will always have prejudices and must guard against our ability to make judgments about any group of people.
Most powerful to me were the shocking stories of racism within our own denomination.
I wish these stories were not true, but sadly we have much to repent of. Even the history of Oregon, which was formed as a slave free state, does not escape shame. Even though they did not allow slavery here, they also did not allow black people at all to live here.
Knowing this history, of our area, and of the majority's political views, I was happily surprised that after he spoke of the civil rights movement, and some personal memories of his father, and came to the historic inauguration of our first African American President Barak Obama - the congregation burst into applause! How amazing!
Tears of joy filled my eyes and I have been breaking into spontaneous smiles ever since. I am SO proud of my Dad, and our country, and I admire those who did not vote for Obama, but are still willing to celebrate this momenteous fullfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream for our nation!