Local woman’s ties to black theologian Howard Thurman remembered

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“Listen to the long stillness: new life is awakening New dreams are moving New hopes are brewing: humanity is shaping a new heart and a new spirit. God is at work. It is the season of promises.

– Howard Thurman

Forty years after his death, Howard Thurman is experiencing a kind of revival. Christian Century magazine recently published book reviews on two recent works highlighting Thurman’s legacy, both in the areas of social justice and spiritual training.

Thurman had a close connection to Martin Luther King Jr., as they were together at Boston University’s School of Theology, a Methodist seminary where Thurman was the dean of the chapel. King has always been the activist, Thurman the thoughtful mystic for improving race relations.

A local woman has a long-standing connection to Thurman and was recently awarded the Valiant Woman Award from the local Church Women United. Suzanne Chandler Faulk is originally from Bloomington, where her father briefly pastored the Second Baptist Church.

Reverend Marvin Chandler was later Thurman’s pastor at the Church for the Community of All Peoples that Thurman founded in San Francisco as the nation’s first interfaith interfaith congregation. Pastor Chandler now lives in Indianapolis, but he and his family cherish their friendship with a great and esteemed black theologian.

Faulk says “there was something special about him,” but his own accomplishments are commendable and something to ponder as our country celebrates 245 years of freedom. Originally a volunteer, Faulk is now the manager of Opportunity House, a well-known “thrift store” where people who need a good deal eagerly shop. It has been around for over 50 years and its primary focus is to provide funds to Monroe County United Ministries, a non-profit organization known locally as “Mac-Um”. He has a variety of ministries focused on children and families in need, and is strongly supported by local churches and faith groups.

Church Women United is behind all of these efforts to bring churches, denominations and women together in shared ministry in community. CWU is a national ecumenical organization of Christian women, including Catholics. Recently, the local branch – progressive as this city is – has explored adding interfaith concerns to crossing denominational barriers, which the national organization is also exploring. As usual, faith groups in this city are ahead.

An effort to bring musical groups together in an interfaith setting has failed due to the pandemic, but expect it to return.

And as women in leadership and ministry positions become more and more important, the long history of churchwomen and their involvement in all missionary endeavors continues swiftly and without hesitation.

Interracial and justice issues are among the many they grapple with, and Suzanne Faulk is just one of many valiant women who could be recognized.

The new day for the church after the pandemic will be different, but women – of all races – will lead the way.

“We will overcome. Oh, deep in my heart, I believe, we will overcome one day.”

“We will walk hand in hand … We are not afraid … We will all be free … one day!”

– “We Shall Overcome”, Afro-American spiritual


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