A Silver Anniversary Shift

by DanWolgemuth on February 3, 2023

Picture it… the Chicago Sheraton Hotel, late January 1969. A milestone gathering in the life of Youth For Christ. Yes, a Silver Anniversary. Twenty-five years, and pressing on.

Photo Courtesy of Joan Young

I was a squirrely 8th grader, with an invitation to attend the festivities. That had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the fact that my dad was the President of YFC at the time.

During the time of celebration, the MC announced that they had a special gift for my dad. A recognition of his leadership and commitment. Much to my delight, this was not a watch, or a silk tie, or a trophy… oh, no. Much better. Yes, they gave my dad, and consequently our entire family, a brand new Zenith color television.

What made this especially exciting was that just six months from that date, Neil Armstrong would walk on the moon. A top-notch television was a perfect complement to that historic endeavor.

Going from a cryptic black and white set, to a high quality color set was stunning. Stark in some ways. Vivid. Revealing.

This was more than an enhancement, it was a complete shift. Something richer and more wonderful… especially for a 13-year-old.

Ironically, this happened just before I entered high school at Wheaton Central. As a freshman, I was introduced to George and Ray Murray. These two senior wrestlers were special men. Brothers with incredible wrestling talent. Disciplined. Strong. Committed. And, Black.

Amazingly, Mrs. Murray, their mom, was our team bus driver. A lively, lovely, engaging and loving woman. A cheerleader with a message, especially for her sons.

And just like that, my world changed. Just as vividly as from a black and white set to a new Zenith. My monochromatic world shifted. Nearly everything around me… church, school, and neighborhood was white… and now color. Diversity.

While it was the Murray brothers that I saw most frequently, it was Mrs. Murray that brought life and joy and enthusiasm and laughter and warmth to every encounter. Even on a Blue Bird bus with 40 high school boys. She was my red carpet into the broad and beautiful world that God created. A world of color.

It changed me. Slowly, but significantly.

In reality, that fabulous Zenith set that we placed in our basement at 103 E. Park, would no longer be welcome in our house. We want more. Better quality. More reality. Enhanced imagery. Better sound. Entirely better…

So should my desire be to better understand the beauty of God’s diverse community. His Kingdom community. The imago deo mosaic.

Indeed, Lord help us… as so many of us seem to clamor for the old days of black and white. Lord help us as we continue to adjust the rabbit ears on our antique set in hopes that the picture will improve. Lord give us eyes to see what you alone have created for our delight and for your purposes.

February is Black History Month in the United States. I would encourage you to explore your own Black History journey. A diary entry of my own journey is above. The rest of my diary is littered with good and bad. With misunderstanding, neglect, and ignorance… but by God’s grace, the picture continues to improve. Thanks to the many patient voices God has placed in my life… starting with the Murrays.

Join me…

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