Recently we were visited by the granddaughter of Rev. Paul Becker who served as Senior Minister here (at the time University Christian Church) from 1932 to 1938. Karin Becker shared with me one of his sermons, which he preached on Race Relations Sunday, February 13, 1938; and again a few years later when he served Bethany Christian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. At the time of first proclamation, the pulpit at First Christian Church was arguably the most prominent in the city, and the congregation was largely middle and upper class white residents of the Drake Neighborhood. This sermon was so shocking to its audience that it received a brief write up in Time magazine, and they dubbed Rev. Becker as ’the Orson Welles of the pulpit.’
78 years later I’m inspired by Rev. Becker’s courage, and saddened by how much of this sermon remains the narrative of today. His language is antiquated, and some of his arguments harken white supremacy; nevertheless (and forgiving contextual ills) Rev. Becker’s sentiment fits the justice preaching of #BlackLivesMatter.
A special thank you to Karin Becker for giving us permission, and indeed it is my pleasure to share with you: “If I were a Negro” by Rev. Becker.