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Bishop Felton May: Sharing MLK's Dream

United Methodist Bishop Felton May was a local pastor in Chicago and served as master of ceremonies when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to speak on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


Narrator: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for equality for all. Many United Methodists valued his vision and his leadership. Bishop Felton May had these messages for the man who inspired him.

Choir: No more crying days. We are going to see our King, singing hallelujah, hallelujah…

Bishop Felton May: The first time that I saw you, the year must have been 1958. I remember that because the words that you shared were these, that either we were going to learn to live together as brothers or die together as fools. That is as true today as it was years ago. The second encounter that I had with you personally, you came to the community where I was serving as a local pastor. There, you began to spit out your dream for Chicago. The way in which you spoke your heart helped them to realize that we were all tied into a network of mutuality and that none of us would escape if we turned away from the reality that black people needed to be set free economically, politically, socially. You have been a sign of hope. Your stamina and your lifestyle has been a ray of hope for all of us. We can’t just rest on what you did and that every generation needs persons who give themselves to the degree that you gave of yourself. I’m readying myself to give of myself in a way that might move the ball further down the field. I pray that God will give me the sufficient wisdom and strength to redeem the time, in the time that I have left on this earth, to enflesh the word. Not only to enflesh your words, Dr. King, but to enflesh the words of Jesus the Christ. Thanks be to God for you having the courage to utilize the gifts that God gave you, and may the will of God be done on Earth as it is in Heaven where I pray you rest with a degree of satisfaction. Thank you.

Narrator: Bishop Felton May reflected on the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during an exclusive interview with United Methodist Communications in 2003. 

May served at Maple Park United Methodist Church in Chicago from 1963 to 1968. He was elected bishop and assigned to the Harrisburg (Pa.) Episcopal Area in 1984. He was bishop on special assignment to the Initiative on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Violence from 1989 to 1990. He then returned to the Harrisburg Area as bishop from 1990 to 1996. He later served as bishop of the Washington Area.

He has been a strong voice of concern for the AIDS/HIV crisis in Africa and was instrumental in the founding of Africa University, the only institution of higher learning on the continent supported by the general United Methodist Church. May also had a key role in founding the Communities of Shalom Movement and the Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty.

View all the videos of United Methodists who walked with Martin Luther King Jr. and share his dream.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

Media contact: Joe Iovino.

This encore video was first posted in February 2015.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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