Pinder’s Kids

When I was a teenager, growing up in Orlando, Florida, a young black priest named Nelson Pinder came to our high school youth group and shared his experience of “the Plunge.” This was a program of the Urban Training Cener in Chicago where participants were given a dime and put on the streets of Chicago to learn, firsthand, what homelessness was like.

Hearing Fr. Pinder speak and later reading a book called “Light the Dark Streets” documenting Paul Moore and Kim Myer’s experiences as young, inner city priests in Newark fired my imagination and introduced me to the (then) radical new idea that the gospel had something to do with social justice and that the Church might actually speak prophetically and stand alongside the “last and the least” like Jesus himself had done.

Later, after many “dangers, toils, and snares” I decided that I could either stand outside and criticize the Church for not being braver and more faithful, or I could get involved, become an “insider” and try to make a difference. This was part (though not all) of my “call” and led me to seminary, ordination, and a life of service to the Episcopal Church.

I have run across Fr. Pinder a number of times during the years. (In fact, he was instrumental in steering me toward my first curacy upon graduation from seminary — and he never tires of telling that story…how he “got me my first job.” Indeed he did!)

I read today in the Orlando Sentinel that a new play has been written entitled “Pinder’s Kids” which dramatizes and documents Nelson’s mentoring of young black students in 1960’s Orlando in the ways of non-violent resistence, walking in the footsteps of Dr. King.  I could not be happier and more proud of him!

Pinder’s Kids. Although he may not know it…I’m one of them!      

3 Responses to “Pinder’s Kids”

  1. DHFabian Says:

    I would like to see some of our legislators, with their families, try something similar, but with one important condition: To see what it is really like to be poor in America, leave your credentials behind, and try to find family-supporting work that will enable you to get out of poverty. Go job hunting with a resume that shows you completed high school (college is WAY beyond the financial means of most). List unskilled labor as your prior work experience; this will ensure that you remain locked into bottom-wage jobs, giving you some understanding of the hopelessness of poverty. Remember that you have no friends or family to fall back on, no one from whom to borrow money, no money in savings, no insurance. Live like this for one year. If you are fortunate enough to lose your job, then you will get a REAL education in US poverty today. Trust me, it will completely change your understanding of poverty today, as well as your views of (what is left of) our social programs, our government, and our fellow citizens in general.

  2. ecubishop Says:

    What a great idea! An updated (and actually more practical) version of what the “plunge” was supposed to do! Thanks for this…

  3. Willie King Says:

    I relocated to Orlando a few years ago after marriage. I’m glad to hear about Rev Pinder. I learned about him after reading the news paper during black history month. There should be schools and highways and others name after Rev Pinder. I bet if he was baptist he would have recieved more recognition for his work. Not that he is asking but it should be. Rev Pinder is an outstanding American.

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