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The following remarks were delivered by Pastor Devlin Scott of NewCity Church  during this morning’s 52nd Annual Martin Luther King Community Celebration:

Good Morning Neighbors.

Allow me to introduce myself.

But rather than tell you my credentials, my education level and experiences; rather than point out my adornments and use language that proves to some and attempts to convince myself that I belong here and should be standing on this stage — I want to tell you who I am.

Rather than speak of my affection for social justice, diversity and inclusion; rather than speak of how the struggle and fight for equity is in my blood, that my maternal grandma marched with Dr. King and became a beacon of hope in her small town of Shelby, MS – building schools, bringing fresh produce to her town by growing it in 100s of acres of community gardens and fighting for the development of roads and homes in this rural town of 600 people; or that I am paternally related to Coretta Scott King the wife of Dr King — I said its literally in my blood — instead I want to tell you who I am.

Rather than tell you about my experience growing up on Chicago’s south side with a high school drop out and drug dealer as a father and a church going physician assistant as a mother; rather than speak of when my family moved here, what brought us to this great city and how our experience has been so far; I resist the notion to even describe what I do, but instead simply tell you who I am.

My name is Devlin Scott.
I am black.
I am a husband
I am a father
I am Christian
I am a Pastor

I tell you who I am because I have come to learn that the only prerequisite to be your neighbor is that I am who I am.

I don’t have the luxury to be one of these things without the other. I can’t turn off being a Pastor just as much as I can’t turn off being a father. I shouldn’t stop being a Christian, just as much as I shouldn’t try to act as if I am as ashamed to be black.

This is me. And I am your neighbor.

To know your neighbor is to love your neighbor and to love your neighbor is to radically accept your neighbor. Because the bases of loving others is to love them as you love yourself. And a healthy you radically accepts you. You think you’re the best person around. You see yourself as doing your best and you value you enough to forgive you, trust you, fight for you. You and you are tight. Ya’ll go way back.

Acceptance means you make room for people to be who they are — you add a another chair at the table; you add another place setting; you move your stuff off the extra chair near you — you make room for people; as they are, whether you agree with them or not. You make room. Whether you have much in common or not, you make room.

Dr. King said it this way, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” — so, let’s make room.

Make room by offering a radical invitation to all people; by showing radical hospitality to all people; by responding with a radical embrace of all people; by rendering a radical love for all people; and by standing with a radical boldness for all people.

Let’s make room.

Let’s make room for every single one of our kids to have the best education; whether typically developing or on an IEP; whether from Newton or bused from Boston.

Let’s make room.

Let’s make room for the senior citizens and the elderly to age in place; for teachers to have fair compensation and benefits, and for our communities to be as environmentally safe as possible.

Let’s make room.

Let’s make room for families to live here; whether that family is a single person or a family of six; whether they make six and seven figures or survive on minimum wage; whether they are liberal or conservative or somewhere in between; whether they born here, brought here or simply chose to live here.

Let’s make room.

Let’s make room for affordable housing. Sure, we should consider traffic patterns, overcrowded schools and neighborhood density, but may that never distract us from what is most important – our neighbors. So let’s make room. I don’t care if its “livable” or “right-size,” let’s just make room.

Let’s. Make. Room.

I am your neighbor. Who I am is who I am and I am your neighbor. Will you make room for me?

I’m reminded of Dr. Kings words, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Could not we understand Dr. King’s work to be summed up in this — let’s make room for others?

Newton is a great city. I’m proud to live here. So I leave you with this;

Dr. King had a dream, now we have a mission — an obligation some would say. And Newton, what is our mission this year? Let’s make room for others. Let’s really “know” our neighbors.

Thank you.

Rev. Devlin Scott
Lead Pastor – NewCity Church
www.newcitychurch.cc