Letter to the US member churches, 27 October, 2005
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The passing away of Rosa Louise McCauley Parks is a challenging reminder to
us as churches that resistance to racism, in all its forms, is a responsibility that
we continue to carry. I have read recently that Rosa Parks' belief in God and her
religious convictions were at the core of everything she did. In her autobiography
she wrote: "I'd like for [readers] to know that I had a very spiritual background
and that I believe in church and my faith and that has helped to give me
the strength and courage to live as I did."
As we mourn the passing of this legendary woman, we are inspired by her life
of faith that led to her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. That "small
and courageous act" on her part of not giving up her seat to a white passenger on
a city bus started a protest that was felt throughout the United States and in fact
the whole world, as it, without a doubt, redirected the course of history. It is my
conviction that this act contributed significantly to the stirring of the waters of
resistance to racial segregation in South Africa and in other parts of the world.
Jesus said: "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it." (Luke
11:28). In refusing to obey a dehumanizing, racist rule, Rosa Parks affirmed both
her loyalty to God and her own dignity as a person created in God's image and
loved by God. It was this sense of costly obedience that strengthened her and so
many others in their struggle.
My prayer as we honour this great soul is that we will continue to be relentless
in the fight against racism in all its forms in church and society. I strongly
reaffirm the World Council of Churches' commitment to continue addressing the
unfinished agenda in the struggle to overcome racism. We express our solidarity
with the churches in the US who have been in the forefront of the struggle.
With all good wishes and prayers,
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia