God, Struggle, and United: Orthodoxy and Civil Rights by Archbishop Demetrios of America

Remarks of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America


Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast

March 8, 2015

Wallace Community College – Selma, Alabama


God, Struggle, and Unity


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. 

          These words from the Book of Psalms (Psalm 135: 1) were not uttered in a time of tranquility and joy.  They were not spoken when all was secure, protected, and safe.  They are a witness of deep faith and unwavering hope in the midst of great struggle.  Under the threat of persecution and death, in the face of hatred and violence, these words of truth are offered by the Bible as a testimony of the power of faith and hope to overcome.

          In great struggles,  hope is sustained by faith in God and the assurance that He will fulfill His promises.  He has given us life and abundance of life (John 10:10).   He has promised to nurture and protect our souls, offering the unique fellowship with Him.  Through faith in Him, our lives are transformed, and the promises of a blessed and abundant life are real and renewed every day, in spite of any kind of difficulties, ordeals and afflictions.

          In the midst of struggle, we know that hope sustained by faith is strengthened when it is shared.  With shared faith and hope with unified vision of the purpose and nature of human life, in true relationships with God and each other, we are able to offer a beautiful and powerful witness of what true life should be.  In our unity we are able to defend the right to the fullness of life for every human being and to stand for all that is just and good and sacred.

On this anniversary we commemorate the heroic faith and hope of those who struggled, of those who upheld human dignity through powerful yet peaceful protests and demonstrations against racism, prejudice, fear and hatred.  In the midst of fierce struggle, they remained firm and uncompromising and united in the truth and hope of the civil rights peaceful movement.

Today, we honor a legacy of noble struggle, as so many sacrificed so much for equality and freedom.  We honor great people like Martin Luther King and also fighters like Rev. James Reeb and Jimmy Lee Jackson.  But we also celebrate a legacy of faith in God, and hope for change—hope that offers dreams of a better future; hope that sees these dreams fulfilled in greater respect for human life and dignity; hope that realizes the affirmation and protection of equality and inalienable rights for all; hope in a shared commitment to ideals and principles that are revealed by God, innate to our human existence and potential, and essential in a free society and for the life and prosperity of all humanity.

And we know that God is with us and that His mercy endures for ever.  Hence, we repeat in unison: We give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.   Amen.