The Freedom Riders not only desegregated bus stations and public facilities in the south during the civil rights era, they tried to go to church. I remember how upset I was when I heard that the minister who had baptized and married me was forced out of his church. Here is that story.
My family’s attendance at Galloway was an established tradition by the early 1960s. My wife Gloria and I sat with our sons in the sanctuary, but as savvy parents we allowed the boys to have a few minutes outside between Sunday School and the morning service. On one Sunday in June—June 19, 1963—the boys were late coming to join us. When I went to check on them, I found the side doors locked; no one could enter. As I opened the doors for the boys, I noticed a flurry of activity outside. There was a small group of people including several African Americans. When I sat down, I turned to Gloria and remarked, “Let’s listen closely; this may be the last sermon we’ll hear Dr.Selah preach.” As it turned out, it was the day Dr. Selah left the pulpit, having stated his position that no one seeking to enter the church should be turned away. When he went to his office, we followed behind, deeply concerned about what had taken place. He said to us, “I’ve preached of love to this congregation for eighteen years, and no one heard me.” I said, “No, Dr. Selah. Many of us heard you, and what you taught has influenced our lives.” Dean Miller, Galloway UMC