It isn’t as big a deal here in the central valley of California as it is in the great plains, but when you set your goal to reach the mountains seen in the distance, it seems like it takes forever to reach them. You could become discouraged at an apparent lack of progress if you did not stop occasionally to check on the progress you have made already.
When you belong to a justice seeking church that talks about being progressive you have a vision of distant mountains that you hope to reach. Frustration and impatience sets in at an apparent lack of progress. Certainly the mountaintops have not yet been attained, but we are closer than we were. It really is worth the additional struggle to gain true justice and acceptance for all.
During my vacation Rev. Michael Daks talked about the 60th anniversary of the UCC. Our spiritual ancestors accomplished these firsts. Compare them to the corresponding change in American society and you will see the progress toward a more just society that the church has helped make real.
1785 Rev. Lemuel Hayes, first African American ordained in Protestantism,
1863 Emancipation Proclamation
1853 Rev. Antoinette Brown, first woman ordained in Christian Churches,
1920 Women’s right to vote acknowledged by constitutional amendment
1972 Rev. William Johnson, first openly gay minister ordained in Protestant church
1996 discrimination based on sexual orientation declared unconstitutional
1978 Accessible to All resolution approved by UCC synod
1990 Americans with Disabilities Act becomes law
2005 Marriage Equality resolution approved by UCC synod
2015 Marriage Equality affirmed by Supreme Court of U.S.
Some churches decry the lessening influence of the Christian Church in society. From my perspective, my church, the UCC, is continuing to influence society and bending the arc of history toward greater justice. I doubt that we will reach the mountaintops where there is no more discrimination and marginalizing of people, but maybe my role in my time here on earth is just to move the arc a little further along in the right direction.