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To Samuel McCrea Cavert

King, Martin Luther, Jr.
November 27, 1959
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


Responding to a request by Pulpit Digest for a sermon on race relations, King declines, explaining that he had not had an opportunity to write out a complete sermon on this topic for several years.1

Dr. Samuel McCrea Cavert
159 Northern Boulevard
Great Neck, New York

Dear Dr. Cavert:

Thank you for your very kind letter of November 18, requesting me to submit a sermon that would be appropriate for either Race Relations Sunday or Brotherhood Sunday to appear in the columns of PULPIT DIGEST.2

First, let me say how deeply grateful I am to you for inviting me to submit a sermon to such a significant publication. Unfortunately, however, I do confront some problems concerning the possibility of submitting the type of sermon you request. Due to an extremely crowded and strenuous schedule for the last two or three years, I have not had an opportunity to write most of the sermons that I preach. In most cases I have had to content myself with a rather detailed outline. This happens to be the case with all of the sermons that I have preached on the general theme of brotherhood and race relations. I have several such sermons pretty well outlined, but I do not have a single one in a final written form. If I had time I would be more than happy to write one of these sermons in full, but several pressing responsibilities make that impossible at this time. But for these difficulties I would be more than happy to comply with your request. Please know that I regret this very deeply. I might mention that I have the complete manuscript for several of my other sermons. If you are ever desirous of having one I will be glad to submit it.

Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.

1. Cavert to King, 18 November 1959. Samuel McCrea Cavert (1888-1976) received a B.A. from Union College (1910) and an M.A. in philosophy from Columbia University (1914). In 1915. he obtained a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary. That same year, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He served as general secretary of the Federal Council of Churches from 1921 until his retirement in 1954, when it was known as the National Council of Churches. In 1959, King accepted Cavert's invitation to join the Advisory Board of the journal's Religious Book Club (King to Cavert, 28 January 1959). Pulpit Digest contains sermons and articles to assist ministers in sermon preparation.

2. Race Relations or Brotherhood religious services focus on raising public awareness on race and other social issues. The National Council of Churches began sponsoring an annual Race Relations Sunday in 1922 to acknowledge the importance of interracial relations. King prepared a 10 February 1957 Race Relations Sunday message for distribution by the Council titled “For All—A Non-Segregated Society” (in Papers4: 123-125).


MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.