"I hate your . . . religious festivals . . . burnt offerings .
. . noisy songs. Instead let justice flow like a stream and
righteousness like a river that never goes dry."
Amos 5: 21-24
According to Biblical lore, Amos was one of the first prophets
to preach that for God, mercy and justice for the poor and
oppressed takes precedence over government heads, religious
rituals, and wealth.
The Rev. Alan Meyers, a religion professor at Lindenwood
College, suggested that the story of Amos provided a perfect
connection with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who would have
been 66 on Sunday.
"King is the finest example in living memory of a religious
leader who addressed the great public issues of the day from the
pulpit. Like Amos, he criticized his society in the name of God,"
Meyers said. "Today most Americans seem to have forgotten that."
One St. Charles church hasn't forgotten. The Old Testament
words of Amos will be read and discussed in a homily by the Rev.
Nicholas Smith at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 601
North Fourth Street, St. Charles.
The special prayer service is being held to remind people of
all denominations to remember King's call for justice and peace.
Calls to 15 area churches indicated that although several - the
Salvation Army, United Church of Christ and African Methodist
Episcopal churches - have organized regional services in St. Louis
this weekend, only Borromeo will observe Martin Luther King Day in
This is the first year Borromeo has commemorated King, Smith
"We thought it would be interesting to send out the word to our
brothers and sisters and make it an ecumenical gathering - mindful
of the fact that we're all called on to work for peace and justice
in the world," Smith said.
Some pastors and social activists suggest that many area
churches are still wrapping up the Christmas season, while other
congregations may be skittish about tackling social issues or too
young to appreciate King's contributions.
The Rev. Diane Windler, interim pastor at Grace United Church
of Christ in St. Peters, said that although she plans to mention
King and the civil-rights movement in her sermon on Sunday, she
will not center the service on his life.
"I came here just last week, so I'm still learning my way
around. But frankly, there are many preachers who are scared to
death to take a political stand in the pulpit," Windler said.
"And it's difficult for us as a society to face the fact that
despite so much hard work that was done in the '60s, in civil
rights we're still not there," Windler said. "What's really sad is
that the white community doesn't seem to claim Dr. King as ours. We
give him to the black community, when he is an American hero whose
life affected everyone. …