Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess
DRAP (Dismantling Racism and Privilege) Moderator
St. Mark Presbyterian Church

February is a curious month in the life of the church. We replace the lights of Christmas and Epiphany with the ashes of penitence. The “good news of great joy for all people” gives way to remembering, “we are dust, and to dust we shall return.” Our forty-day Lenten journey to Jerusalem, the cross, and the tomb begins in two short weeks, but there are many lasting ways to grow during the shortest month of the year.
The church rarely makes a point to celebrate Black History Month. I recognize this deficiency in myself, and I also know I am not alone. I am both comforted and convicted by the life and ministry of Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake. His name, and his work, is largely forgotten by most present-day Presbyterian, but he is a titan of our faith and an important ally in the Civil Rights Movement. Born in St. Louis in 1906, Blake went on to serve as the stated clerk of the PCUSA General Assembly, the president of the National Council of Churches, and the president of the World Council of Churches. Most remember him for his work to end racial segregation and for helping to organize the March on Washington.
Blake delivered a brief message in front of the Lincoln Memorial minutes before Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. His words are still true 58 years later.
“We come to the march behind and with those amazingly able leaders of the Negro Americans who, to the shame of almost every white American, have alone and without us mirrored the suffering of the cross of Jesus Christ; they have offered their bodies to arrest and violence, to the hurt and indignity of fire hoses and dogs, of derision and poverty, and some to death for this just cause. We come—late we come—but we come to present ourselves, our souls and our bodies to be ‘a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.’”
Many of us look at the inequalities in the world and wonder what good can we do? Where would we even start? The Dismantling Racism and Privilege (DRAP) Team invites you to participate in two special programs on March 4 and April 8. Shawn Rochester will speak about his book, The Black Tax, and discuss the disproportionate financial burden faced by many of our neighbors. The presbytery is presenting this engaging and enlightening conversation free of charge, but we ask interested people to register on the website. Please feel free to share the invitation with others. Find More Information Here
We might arrive late to the struggle, but our God still invites us to come. I hope you will join us for these important events.
In Hope and Confidence,
Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess
DRAP Moderator


  • Posted February 2, 2021 5:17 pm
    Diane McCullough

    Dave, Thank you for sharing Rev. Dr. Blake’s words and for delivering this message. I hope we will see a large number of people signed up for Black Tax workshops with Shawn Rochester. We will be advertising it through the Advocacy Team at Webster Groves.

    • Posted February 22, 2021 9:30 am
      Dave Burgess

      I am filled with anticipation for the gatherings over the next couple of months!

  • Posted February 3, 2021 9:33 am
    Ellen Gurnon

    Thank you, Dave! I confess, I usually don’t even realize it’s Black History month until about mid-February. But this year I have been anticipating and planning. I’m getting “28 Days of Black History” – an email a day in February with a story of an event or a person of significance. I will be registering for The Black Tax.

    • Posted February 22, 2021 9:31 am
      Dave Burgess

      Ellen, I agree. This year has been more intentional (and encouraging.)

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