…is actually what I’m not going to do (at least not until the end of this post). But I do want to draw attention to what other Disciples are saying and writing about it.

Dr. Ed Wheeler at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis wrote an essay which circulated via email among some Disciples and others. It was also sent to CTS’ faculty. Wheeler sent this piece or something similar to Brite Divinity School’s trustees also, expressing his support for their decision to move ahead with plans to recognize Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright for his ministry. Although Texas Christian University asked Brite to move its State of the Black Church Summit events off-campus because of security concerns, and Wright later canceled for safety reasons, Brite honored him last Saturday evening.

Wheeler makes a great point about technology and how a few repeated sound-bites from Wright’s sermons were chosen to represent (or misrepresent) his ministry and preaching; what might this mean for the church, and for preaching in general?

Another Disciple who expressed an opinion in a public forum was Rev. Robin Hoover of First Christian Church in Tucson, Ariz. Hoover, a TCU and Brite alum, weighed in with a piece in TCU’s Daily Skiff and a similar one that ran in the Arizona Republic.  Hoover “falls on his sword” for Wright and reminds readers about the prophetic tradition in Scripture, which included prophets who criticized Israel when God’s justice was at stake. Also, the Daily Skiff deserves much recognition for publishing a number of opinion pieces, news articles and letters to the editor as events unfolded last week.

Disciples blogger and Gen-X pastor Dennis Sanders posted his “Notes from a Black pastor” early in the controversy, giving a negative assessment of Wright’s message, and then came back with another posting, “The Way We Were…and Are,” noting that while there may have been a time and place for rhetoric like Wright’s, that time has passed. The nation still has work to do, but has also made progress and we need to take that into account.

What I’ve been wondering is, should the denomination be weighing in on this in some official way? Wright’s not a Disciple, although he’s ordained and has standing in the United Church of Christ, with whom we Disciples have a relationship. And what continued to feed the controversy last week was partly the plans of a Disciples seminary to honor him.

My conclusion is that any ‘official’ statement from the General Minister and President or even the head of the National Convocation would be a little ‘off’, for Disciples. We’re not a denomination where anybody speaks for anybody else.

However, a lot of folks ARE speaking, and talking, and writing about this. But from what I can gather, we are speaking mostly to and with those who already know and agree with us. Publishing Ed Wheeler’s opinion piece on our website (with his permission) is, in part, an attempt to get some thoughtful dialogue going in broader circles, before all this fades away.

I’m not in favor of letting the Disciples totally off the hook though. For a denomination with the intentional anti-racism commitments we have made to just let this slip by unremarked would be a shame. What would be great is if this, coupled with Barack Obama’s speech on race, could be the starting point for some new conversation on race and racism in the church. They say this ‘new conversation’ is happening on college campuses and in other places already, because of the Wright incident and the Obama speech. Why not in the church? Or is it?