In a sermon in the Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden on 4 November, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit remembered that, on 4 July 1968, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. should have entered the very same cathedral to preach at the opening service of the WCC Fourth Assembly.
“He never came,” said Tveit. “On April 4 he was assassinated, for being the salt and the light in the world that he was called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be.”
As the WCC Executive Committee met this week in Uppsala, they remembered King on All Saints Day.
“You are the salt of the world. You are the light of the world. These are Jesus’ words to his followers,” Tveit said. “Where things get rotten and tasteless, you are the salt. Where people cannot find their way in the darkness, you are the light.”
Fifty years ago, the Uppsala assembly became a milestone, even a turning point on the WCC’s pilgrimage journey, Tveit said. “It led to a renewed commitment to be salt and light in the world – together, to be signs of this new reality.”
Tveit asked: what made the church delegates so bold as to be salt and light in the world together?
“Dr Martin Luther King Jr. did not come to the assembly,” Tveit said. “But it looks like his struggle and his boldness to work for justice were there.”
The spirit of his work was very much alive in Uppsala in July 1968, Tveit continued. “He became a martyr for his faith, his dream, of a new humanity – according to God’s will,” Tveit said. “He continues to inspire so many around the world today. I am convinced that the martyrdom of Martin Luther King made the participants in the assembly in 1968 sad but also courageous, even so bold as to see themselves as salt and light, signs of the new unity of humankind.”
A vibrant movement ready for tomorrow’s challenges (WCC press release of 5 November 2018)
Unity, solidarity and hope at core of Ecumenical Weekend (WCC press release of 4 November 2018)
WCC moderator honoured by Church of Sweden, for efforts on Christian unity (WCC press release of 3 November 2018)
WCC condemns attack on Christians in Egypt (WCC press release of 2 November 2018)
WCC moderator, general secretary address Executive Committee (WCC press release of 2 November 2018)
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson: “We are called to serve” (WCC press release of 2 November 2018)
WCC, ACT reflect on ecumenical diakonia in historic meeting (WCC press release of 1 November 2018)
WCC Executive Committee convenes in Uppsala, Sweden (WCC press release of 1 November 2018)