Meekins: Like King, Seek Authentic Community


By Jackie Campbell

"God wants an authentic community, and when God is present, there is opportunity,” Greensburg District Superintendent William B. Meekins Jr., told those gathered at Monroeville UMC for a June 19 service celebrating the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“God calls us to seek that authentic community,” he explained, saying that is how God created us. Seeking a community that is not divided is what Dr. King was all about, Meekins said.  It was not about him.

“What are we willing to risk to find the sense of authentic community?” he asked. “What are we willing to sacrifice?

“We want to hold on to what we have, but it doesn’t work that way.  In order for one to gain their life, one has to be willing to lose their life.

“Everything that is worth anything requires sacrifice,” he said.  “We are called to use what we have to create a sense of community where some folks are not thinking they are better off, but that we are in this together.”

Meekins said now is the moment to start. “God called us to make a better world…starting in our own communities….sometimes even in our own families,” he said.

Meekins delivered the message in place of Bishop Warner Brown of the San Francisco Area, who was delayed at a Washington, D.C. airport.  The service was sponsored by the Pittsburgh and Greensburg Districts and featured readings from King’s speeches, as well as special music.

Meekins said “some people buy into the notion that finally we (African-Americans) have arrived because Barack Obama is president.  I beg to differ.” While the days of “Whites Only” signs on restrooms are gone, society is still divided.

Our congregations, he noted, are not reflective of the demographic of society.  We must look at moving beyond acceptance to welcoming those who are different.  “What does it really mean to offering  true welcome – true community?” he asked.

The civil rights movement in the Methodist church started with John Wesley fighting slavery, Meekins pointed out. “That same challenge is ours today. We are still seeking that place where we can live in community… where truly the wolf can lay down with the lamb and the wolf will not consume the lamb.”