Today, as a community and a church, we turn to God, coming together in our grief as we mourn the passage of a national leader and son of Baltimore, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. Our hearts cry out in sorrow at the loss of this faithful servant, friend, and champion of justice.
We remember his years of tireless work as a statesman, reaching across partisan divides to ensure the well-being and dignity of all people. When violence erupted in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, Cummings’ response was to take to the streets, walking arm-in-arm with community leaders, singing, “This Little Light of Mine.” Even in death, his light will not dim. In his service, he inspired countless people and created a legacy of justice-seeking and service.
His legislative accomplishments are legion. In the Maryland House of Delegates, he became the youngest chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and the first African American to serve as speaker pro tempore. As the representative of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996, he served 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representative. In all that he did, he acted with integrity, courage, humility and deep resolve for what was right and good. His favorite quote, it’s been reported, was “Public service is the rent we pay for our space on this earth.”
Within the religious community, Cummings, a member of New Psalmist Church, was lifted up as a humble servant of God. The son of sharecroppers who later became preachers, he was a voice for justice and a witness to hope. Even though his voice is now stilled, his message still cries out, echoing the call of the prophet, Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and to his family in their time of loss. This Sunday, let each of us pause during our worship services to thank God for the life of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. May we find our strength from these words of scripture, “Come to me, all you are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I am gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matthew 11: 28-29) And then, let us each roll up our sleeves, committing ourselves to public service and to create a just and peaceful society that will honor his legacy.