More Than Talk

More Than Talk
Rev. Jeremiah Wright, 1973

In 1972, a dynamic young pastor. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, assumed leadership of an 85-member middle class Chicago congregation, Trinity United Church of Christ. Like other UCC churches of that era, Trinity wished to appeal to middle class whites as well as blacks but, given its inner-city location, had difficultly attracting either after the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chicago Public Housing
Chicago public housing 

Trinity had a few social service programs for poor black residents in the church neighborhood.  Reverend Wright increased their number and scope, but he did more: he invited the poor in as church members, as equals. No longer were the poor merely objects of missionary work; they were welcomed as brothers and sisters.

Reverend Wright’s invitation to the poor was loud and clear: he substituted a Gospel music choir for the Pilgrim Hymnal in the worship service. The invitation was accepted. Church membership grew from 87 to 6000 (some say 10,000) today.

Trinity UCC Sanctuary Choir
Trinity UCC Sanctuary Choir

In 1985, Barack Obama moved to Chicago to work with South Side residents in Roseland and in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development through the Developing Communities Project. After three years he went back east to attend law school, but returned to Chicago in 1993 to work for Project Vote.

Barack Obama of Project Vote, 1993Barack Obama of Project Vote!

Trinity United Church of Christ was teaching poor residents skills and placing them in jobs, giving school supplies to children, helping abused women, counseling cancer survivors and helping drug and alcohol abusers.  The music was good, too. Are you surprised the idealistic young lawyer was attracted to Trinity? It was a church that wasn’t just talk.

One Response to “More Than Talk”

  1. Media Alert — Caution, Real News in DC This Weekend « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] many other preachers can talk better, but Reverend Wright is not all talk. Under his leadership, Trinity United began teaching marketable skills to poor neighbors and […]

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