In honor of the Martin Luther King holiday, I watched a 1966 documentary that had been recommended to me, called A Time for Burning. It is about the efforts of a pastor in Omaha, Nebraska, to lead his church in repenting of the sin of racism and to take the smallest steps to integrate.
It was produced by Lutheran Film Associates, an arm of the Lutheran church, which makes it even more fascinating to watch. The camera crew got incredible access to the candid conversations of these church members as they resist their pastor's leadership. The film was nominated the following year for an Academy Award, which is not hard to imagine. It's so raw and engaging, even though it is mostly recording the conversations of people who are wrestling with how Christians should handle this topic. In 2005, A Time for Burning was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
The articulate black man in this film is radical activist Ernie Chambers, who went on to graduate from law school and become the longest-serving state senator in the history of Nebraska. I dug around for information about what happened to Rev. William Youngdahl, the pastor featured in this film, but didn't find much further information beyond the fact he ended up in California.
I highly recommend investing 55-minutes in this cinema verite film. It is a compelling examination of how Christians can twist or sidestep the gospel for the sake of our own agendas--and how the Holy Spirit can inspire His followers to repent and do what's right, anyway.
You can watch online, via the Documentary Channel's site on the DISH network.