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In 1963, my grandfather was serving as the Senior Minister of West End United Methodist Church in Nashville. West End is situated right across the street from Vanderbilt University, and has always been a wealthy, predominately white church.

One communion Sunday, a black family happened to be worshipping at West End, and like the rest of the congregation, they came forward to receive the meal. Without a sidelong thought, my grandfather served them the bread and juice just as he did the rest of the congregation.

Now, as you know, the Southern U.S. in 1963 was caught up in the height of the Civil Rights movement. And as soon as church dismissed that day, the Administrative Board went into a meeting. A few hours later, they called my grandfather into the room, and though my grandfather was greatly liked by all the people of West End, they asked for his immediate resignation because he served communion to blacks. My grandfather told the gathered group that if that was really the way they felt, then he was not the right minister for them anyway. In stunned silence, the members of the board said nothing more. They knew my grandfather was the right pastor for West End at that time, and they knew that he was right.

My grandfather stayed at West End for many more years, and in that time, other blacks came to worship there as well. Here is a light that illumined a darkness of our world.

(From a sermon by Clair Sauer, A Signpost and a Dash of Salt, 2/2/2011)

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